Dear Community Members,
Education in the St. John Valley is facing an ever increasing rate of change. Decreasing student demographics, increased costs of maintaining infrastructure, reduced state funding for education, an aging population in our communities and a need to balance a highly effective 21st Century education for learners while being sensitive to the economic realities of tax payers are but a few of the challenges and changes facing our schools. Traditionally, when communities in our region face challenges, they come together to take action and help each other overcome those challenges.
That spirit of community and collaboration is the primary reason why MSAD #27, MSAD #33, and the Madawaska School department have come together to embark on a process of strategic planning for the future. Let me be clear – THIS IS NOT A CONSOLIDATION PLAN. This is a STRATEGIC PLAN. A strategic plan provides decision makers with the tools to make decisions about our schools that are based on the expectations, values, and priorities of our communities. Could this plan lead to a conclusion that we should move to consolidate schools? Of course it could, but it could also lead to MANY other things from increased collaboration, shared programs, and the list goes on and on. We just don’t know at this point what the outcome of this plan will be and that’s why this should be a dynamic planning process.
While I will be facilitating this plan with the help of a steering committee, please know that there will be numerous, on-going opportunities for input from everyone in the communities involved. The first part of this process will be to take the “temperature” of the communities and constituencies involved to see what people see as most important in regard to education. Don’t expect to come to public meetings ready to argue for a specific end goal. We need to see what our communities value and prioritize first. For now, we are doing our research and gaging public expectations. Meetings will be structured using a specific planning process and we will be sticking to that process. We will be asking a lot of “what if” questions and we will also be challenging ideas that impede progress.
Let’s face it – if we continue with the status quo we will either hurt the education our learners are receiving or we will be left with a bill we cannot pay. Arguments that we should go back to the educational “basics” of yesteryears are invalid. No, we must move forward and keep our eyes on the future. Please keep your eye on this web page to see updates and review meeting minutes. We will also be sending invitations to groups of stakeholders for planning activities but all of those meetings will be open to the public and announced on this web page so you can see the process in action at any time. You will all have your chance to be heard.
I look forward to working with all of you!
Strategic Planning Consultant
Strategic Planning Consultant