Parents, community members offer input on H-F strategic plan

ozens of parents and community members provided feedback on District 233’s five-year strategic plan Oct. 2 during back-to-back stakeholder meetings at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.
 
Robert Madonia of RJM Consulting Services fielded questions and comments on the H-F school board’s six chosen focus areas: academic achievement and learning; student supports beyond the classroom; staff recruitment, development and retention; finance; building and grounds; and public relations and communications.
 
The board hired Madonia in June to help develop a strategic plan with an $11,900 contract.
 
Madonia said feedback from the meetings and surveys will be given to a community committee of 65 to 70 people. Committee members will spend Nov. 9 and 10 analyzing the data and planning five goals for each of the six categories before giving their recommendations to the board.
 
“We’re going to take what you say tonight and funnel that input forward, and take any input received from the survey and funnel that input forward,” Madonia said.
 
The strategic planning survey is available on Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s website, and hard copies can be obtained at the Homewood and Flossmoor public libraries and mailed or delivered to the District 233 office. 
 
The community committee will reconvene once a year over the next five years to review the progress made on the strategic planning goals, Madonia said.
 
“Some people say, ‘Gee, we put together these five-year plans and then nobody really uses it; it sits on a shelf for five years then you do it over again,’” he said. “That does not happen with this process.” 
 
Parent Carolyn Griggs, who is also a member of the Flossmoor District 161 school board, said the high school should help to prepare students for the path of their choice, whether that is attending Yale, balancing community college with work or something else.
 
“I think we need to make sure that we provide a diverse experience for kids because we don’t just have one type of kid that comes to H-F,” Griggs said. “I think kids should be able to create and craft a path for themselves based on their end goals.”
 
Parent Jennifer Wojcikowski said she feels the school pushes students into the International Baccalaureate (IB) program so it can report better numbers rather than taking into account their individual needs.
 
“One thing we definitely experienced was that we felt like the academic success of the high school was put before the academic success of the child,” Wojcikowski said.
 
Parent Christopher Sawyer said the administration should consider instituting an ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) program.
 
“With the experiences you have in (ROTC), if you decide to go directly into the military you will have had an experience in high school,” Sawyer said. “If you decide to go to college, there are also some scholarships available that will help you pay for it.”
 
Community member Robert Miller said the school board should provide the public with more specific reasons why increases in the tax levy are needed. 
 
“I’ve lived in the community for 30 years,” Miller said. “My wife is a teacher, so we’re very much proponents for the schooling, but I do have a concern when the school board doesn’t really justify a need for a raise in the property tax.”
 
Parent Allisa Opyd said she attended the school’s recent screening of the documentary “Angst” about youth anxiety, and she was concerned that the school would only be showing the film to health classes and IB students. She said the school should communicate what types of support are in place for students to deal with anxiety, especially with all the advanced academic programs and clubs they can feel pressured into joining.
 
“I was amazed to find out that not all teachers received the video,” Opyd said. “It makes me wonder what kind of cross communication are they giving to the teachers to help give better support for the students.”
 
Community member Joe Darguzas said the administration and school board should be more purposeful about posting relevant documents online for the public to review. 
 
“The administration here seems to be masters at obfuscation,” Darguzas said. “I think the administration needs to think about how to communicate better in terms of taxes, in terms of class sizes, in terms of all the things that many other people have mentioned and just be more open and transparent about it.”
 

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