By Diane Allen
Superintendent of Schools
The Taylor School District Revitalization Task Force for the 21st Century will meet for the third time at 4:30 p.m. on April 10 at the Board of Education offices.
The task force of over 60 members represents all stakeholder groups and includes community members, parents, board members, support staff, administrators and teachers at all levels. They have gathered hundreds of ideas and, as a result, have formed 10 action committees.
Those committees will meet independently of the larger group to study specific topics, such as reconfiguration, preschool curriculum, special education, technology, etc. Each committee will present a brief update of the work they have done thus far at the meeting next week.
This is an exciting process that is being lead by a group of dynamic and committed people. The work that is being done on behalf of the students of the Taylor School District will lead to new learning opportunities for all. I'll keep everyone informed as we moved forward.
BACKGROUND: The first meeting of the task force was held Feb. 28. It's mission: To make the community proud of the Taylor School District. At that time, the Board of Education had its deficit plan approved by the State of Michigan and all contracts within the system had been recently approved.
At that meeting, the superintendent pointed out that the district's enrollment was 7,310 with a general fund budget of $62 million. It's foundation allowance per pupil -- the per-pupil state grant to fund education annually -- was $7,547 per pupil.
Allen pointed out that the revitalization program was focused on giving new life or vitality to the system and bringing it again into prominence.
Why the task force? Allen used a couple of quotations to make a point.
Margaret Mead once said, "We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems."
"That says so much about our district," Allen said. "Actually, this is an opportunity for our district" to improve. She then turned to another quote, this time from Oprah Winfrey.
"We can't become what we need to be by remaining what we are." Allen told the task force members that the district will only get better by changing.
Revitalization focuses on five points:
- Increasing student achievement
- Better preparing students to live and work in the 21st Century
- To bring resident students back to the district
- To retain the students that the district currently has
- To increase enrollment through schools of choice
Allen pointed out that nearly half of the K-12 students living in the district (3,016) attend schools out of the system. In addition, she pointed to a 32 percent decline in student population over the past decade. Taylor did see 231 out-of-district student enrollees this year.
The revitalization campaign seeks to change negatives into positives -- instead of an end, this is a chance for a new beginning in Taylor. Considered heavily will be issues like reorganizing to add value, saving money and aligning with best practices and effectively and efficiently using facilities.
The timeline for task force work began with that first meeting. The end date is projected for Sept. 30. There is plenty of work ahead.
"We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet."
-- Margaret Mead