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After four productive meetings, the next step is putting together a draft proposal

Formulating a strategic plan has been a primary focus of the Newberg School District over the past few weeks, and that process is coming to a head as December begins.

Interim superintendent Joe Morelock said that – after four meetings involving the public, staff and school board members – the next work to be done is putting together a draft proposal that includes many of the ideas discussed at the meetings.

"We got a pretty good skeletal format after all that input," he said. "We spoke to the board and we'll put it into a draft. Part of the last meeting was deciding the format we'd like to use to present it. We want it to live beyond the committee and be understandable by humans who weren't there for all four nights."

At the next board meeting, slated for Dec. 10, the group will go over the proposal in what Morelock characterized as "great detail." The biggest focus of the process, he continued, was to maintain transparency and hear from as many community members as possible.

"The challenge was to invite people to give up four nights of their life to dedicate to this," he said. "The other challenge is to make sure that everyone shares. We want a variety of perspectives and to make sure that everyone feels heard, and we tried to show that we were implementing a lot of the solutions people presented."

It isn't realistic to promise implementation of everyone's ideas, especially considering that a number of stakeholders who attended the meetings disagreed on certain issues. But, as Morelock noted, the meetings included productive conversations that resulted in some common ground being found.

It's now up to the district to determine which proposals work for the district from a financial standpoint, and decide how the strategic plan will – in the district's eyes – help the most students. Morelock said he and the board will decide what to include in the draft proposal based on that criteria, taking into consideration the district's budget and feasibility of the proposals.

"I know it was a challenging year for people last year," the interim superintendent said. "So that's why we brought all these folks together and said, 'bring it on' with their ideas. If you're OK with it being a little bit messy, you'll end up with great results, but you have to get through that process."

The hard part is over, but the challenge of putting the strategic plan into words and garnering approval from board and community members remains. Morelock said he was impressed with the passion exhibited by stakeholders at the four meetings, and expressed a positive outlook for the next steps of the process.

"We had a high level of community and staff engagement," he said. "That is a testament to the Newberg and Dundee community's involvement in their schools. They are passionate about having the best experience for their kids and that's what makes this district great."


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