MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- FINN ROCK: “Our job as a communitty and as a school is to make sure every student has an opportunity to be the best they can be,” were the words superintendent Jim Thomas used to open a public meeting at the McKenzie Elementary School’s pagoda building last Wednesday night. “We cannot short change them in terms of academics, social skills or the work ethic they need to have to be successful in whatever field they choose to go into,” he added.

During the 2-1/2 hour session parents, teachers and administrators broke up into small groups that worked on topics ranging from expanding vocational training to ways of  improving communications with the community.



On a positive note, people pointed out a number of things they felt McKenzie Schools had in its favor. On their list of strengths were things like being a small school in a safe environment and their appreciation for the well-maintained facilities. Also getting favorable nods were the continuity of the staff and its ability to relate to students.

When it came time to make lists of the challenges the district faces, some of the items noted ranged from the length of daily time involved in a four-day school schedule, to the lack of athletics for elementary school children. Other things with negative impacts included problems with substance abuse and the ways limited on-line bandwidth impacted access to the internet.

Coming out of the process was a list of eight goals that were part of a first draft of a strategic plan to be presented to the McKenzie School Board this week. Those goals deal with career course offerings, school facilities, finances, communications and student achievement. Rounding out that inventory were technology and general issues such as partnering with Lane Community College and the district’s future educational viability.

A second strategic planning session has been scheduled for next Wednesday night, February 25th, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. It will be held at the Vida McKenzie Community Center, 90377 Thomson Lane in Vida.

People who couldn’t make the first meeting are invited to attend as well. “The main thing is to have everyone understand that what we’re putting together is basically my interpretation of what they had to say at the first meeting.” Thomas says. “It’s a translation, a work in progress. We’re lucky to have people who are dedicated to serve our children. Our challenge is to motivate students to see the importance of education and to look forward to the future.”

View the first draft of the McKenzie School district's strategic plan @ http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/1st-draft-mckenzie-schools-strategic-plan

To comment on the plan, email: jthomas@mckenzie.k12.or.us