Nearly three dozen invited guests gathered last week at Great Bend High School to form a community engagement committee that will examine the needs of USD 428 schools. Those attending represented a cross section of constituents with various ties to education. Most were GBHS graduates or parents and grandparents of students, but represented various positions in the community.
Superintendent Khris Thexton and Terry Wiggers of SJCF Architecture addressed the steering committee and tasked them with identifying problems, establishing goals, gathering community input, educating the community, finding solutions and making recommendations to the USD 428 Board of Education.
“This is the first step in figuring out what the community sees as our strengths and weaknesses,” Thexton said at the Feb. 22 meeting. “Throughout this process, we will learn what our needs for the future are and how to meet those needs.”
“This process is about listening,” Wiggers said, noting the committee will meet 10 to 12 times during the next year before coming to any consensus or conclusion.
“We don’t want to rush the process,” Wiggers said. “If we need more time, we’ll take more time. This is your project; we are just here to facilitate the community engagement and discussion.”
Committee members chose which of six subcommittees they wished to join.
• The Finance group will gather information on school finance related to facilities and maintenance.
• Demographics will gather reliable information to make predictions of the demographic influences affecting local public schools.
• Technology will review the impact of current and future technology on all facilities.
• Pupil Transportation will review the district’s overall student transportation plan and the impact it has on building and the locations of buildings.
• Infrastructure will examine the existing facilities and develop recommendations for meeting critical needs of them.
• The Community Groups subcommittee will look at how the community utilizes facilities and determine the potential for increased community use of USD 428 facilities.
In addition to the community engagement steering committee, there will also be four planning teams, one for each type of facility – elementary schools, middle school, high school and support facilities.
Those team members will be chosen from site councils, community members, parents, faculty, school administration, central office administrations and school board members. It will be their jobs to establish facility goals and objectives, determine criteria required for a typical facility, consider requirements for future programs and make recommendations to the steering committee.
Additionally, staff surveys are being completed to give the district the widest amount of input possible.
“I personally want to thank all of the members of the steering committee,” Thexton said. “Your commitment to our schools is exciting and is what makes our community great.”