Muscogee County School District focus groups to help shape strategic plan

The Muscogee County School District Strategic Planning focus group for the community at large, scheduled around lunchtime Tuesday, didn’t go as planned. Over a couple of hours, only a couple of people showed to participate. Not one drink or bag of popcorn was taken.

There will be a second chance tonight. A focus group for the community at large will meet from 6-8 p.m. at Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development.

The meeting is one of 22 being held this month to help develop a strategic plan for the MCSD. Most of the meetings are aimed at specific groups such as teachers, principals, community youth pastors, Fort Benning, school board members, parents of high school students, parents of middle school students and parents of elementary school parents.

Cunningham Center Director Ed Helton said attendance at those has been good.

“We’re asking everyone four questions,” he said. “When we have all the answers, we’ll organize them and see what we have.”

Participants are being asked their perception and that of others of the school district; why they believe these perceptions to be true; what the school district should aspire to be known for; and what they think it will take to make it happen.

Helton said he has already he has seen a pattern that people want students at all the schools to get a quality education and that communication must be improved between all parties.

Helton said school superintendent Susan Andrews wants to “energize” the district with a strategic plan that aligns the district’s resources.

Andrews said the school district has a lot of different initiatives.

“We can’t be working in isolation,” she said. She wants a strategic plan that gets everyone working together.

Renee Sturkie participated Tuesday. She is an internal auditor at Columbus Regional. She is the president of the PTSA at Columbus High. Sturkie liked the idea of having a strategic plan. Of the focus groups, she said it was a way for “people who have a vested interest in the schools” to voice their thoughts.

She said many people believe the school district is made up of magnet schools that are high achieving and other schools that are underachieving.

“I hope the school board understands the importance of quality in all the schools,” she said.