The district administration is moving toward getting every child ready for college and the ACT test. They are in the process of changing curriculum to move toward that end. "College readiness" is frequently on the lips of our superintendent, Pat Herdrich. The district boasts about expanding curriculum and offering college credits through their courses. They talk about "career clusters" that students will take part in from middle school on up. All this is what makes the comments and concerns of local business leaders, as they spoke to top district administration and the two school board members in attendance(Weigand and Carlson), so compelling.
Local business leaders (see agenda in previous post for some of their names) encouraged the school administration to focus on teaching reading, writing, math skills and good communication skills. They also spoke of the importance of attitude and the ability to learn on the job skills needed in employment. Those who spoke were not as concerned with the job training of potential employees; they regarded strong basic skills in the above items as what they desire in their employees. Someone with good basic skills, they said, can be trained on the job.
One local business leader asked the school administration to restructure and fundamentally change the way we do education- to use technology and save on paid staff, something some school board members are trying to get implemented as well.
District administration was encouraged to "not cut off your fingers and toes", but be purposeful in making budget reductions and controlling costs. "Just remove the accessories". Private businesses are downsizing and because of that are bouncing back, the district should do the same. Government money available to schools is not likely going to increase. We need to use what we have wisely and not ask for more. One person also mentioned that the community does not want an operating referendum, and asked the administration to forgo asking for one. Some concern was expressed about kids making career choices in middle school (thus the career clusters), which will determine which courses they will take in middle and high school, due to kids just not knowing what they will want to do as adults.
These are refreshing comments from local businesses. We seem to have some good business sense in the local businessmen who spoke. I hope the administration and board members were listening. These comments seem to suggest the administration needs to simplify and stay with the basics. They want to see students coming out of high school with strong fundamentals. If the students have those, they will be on the right path to success in whatever path they take after high school.