About 100 members of the Dawson County community gathered Thursday, Oct. 2, at the middle school to discuss how to improve the countys school system.
The meeting, titled Lending Your Voice to Improve Our Schools, was hosted by the Dawson County Board of Education and the Georgia School Board Association.
The forum is the beginning of a five-year strategic plan the system is putting together.
Tony Arasi of the Georgia School Board Association said this is a model many school systems are starting to adopt.
Our idea was to invert the pyramid and make sure we began with a lot of community members giving the district an idea of where they think the district is before they develop a plan, Arasi said. Weve had over 30 school systems utilize this process.
Arasi commended the community and school system for partnering in the strategic plan. Not every district is ready for a process like this and being embracing of it.
Arasi said the model created for the system to follow operates around five questions that would allow success for any business. The questions are: Who are we? Where are we now? What do we need to do? How do we plan to get there? How will we know when were there?
But Arasi said the plan is not about completely changing the mold. If youre a principal in this room, this doesnt mean this plan is going to change everything. This is not about blowing up whatever youre doing now and tossing it aside and coming up with something different. This is to look at whats the best way we can do the best work we need to do?
After Arasis talk and a presentation from Dawson County School Superintendent Dr. Damon Gibbs, community members were divided up into groups of about 10 people. Each group met in different classrooms and had five questions to discuss. The questions focused on what should be preserved, what should be changed, what the top challenges are, and what does the community want to provide for its public schools.
The facilitators then took notes of the responses. The GSBA will compile the responses, and a report will be ready for the school system and community to review in late November.
Susan Muenchen said she came out to the forum because she has a child in the school system, where she also works. I have a daughter in the school system, and I think its important to support the public school system, without a doubt, she said.
Retired educator Bette Holland also felt it was important to give her opinions. Im very concerned about the state of public education in Georgia, she said, and Dawson County is a part of that. We have such a great school system I want to see it continue to be a great school system.
Following the meeting, Gibbs said he has received strong feedback about the forum. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, he said. The process that GSBA provided was invaluable. We simply had to handle logistics on our end.
Community members unable to attend the meeting can still comment. A survey is available on the school boards website, www.dawsoncountyschools.org.