Futures Planning Conference participants leave with newfound dedication to Lawrence schools.
After more than 18 hours of discussion of school-related issues, the myriad ideas presented were boiled down to six common themes.
The Futures Planning Conference, held for the past three days at the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive, finished on a high note Saturday, with participants pledging to take responsibility for creating change within Lawrence schools.
"We have so much to do and so little time," said Kathleen Williams, superintendent of Lawrence public schools.
Williams and the administrative team came up with action plans in areas that included equity, allocation of resources and building a budget rather than cutting it.
Their first plan to be put into action will be a public forum on the architectural design of the new elementary school. Administrators will meet with the public on Feb. 15 at Central Junior High to discuss the new building. Details will be released later.
"This (conference) started out as an idea," Williams said. "At the beginning I said, `Our hope is that by the end of this conference we will balance self-interest with the greater good, ... leave having learned more than when we arrived and something will have happened.' Do you think we achieved that?"
The answer was a standing ovation.
The groups involved in the conference represented students, teachers, school support staff, administrators, school board members, parents and community leaders. All were on equal footing throughout the conference, and all came up with viable plans for creating change either in one school or throughout the district.
"All seven of us are going to form a speaker's bureau to advertise our ability to go and talk to schools, parent groups and community members," Carolyn Masington said. Masington attended the conference as part of the parent group.
As a result of the conference, Masington also will start a pilot program for diversity at New York School, and if the program is successful, will expand it throughout the district.
"We also want to bring parents and children together across neighborhoods," she said.
In the end all of the groups at the conference found six common goals that they believe will lead to better schools in Lawrence: student-centered schools, adequate resources for teachers and students, a high-quality staff, county involvement, comprehensive schools that include lifelong learning centers, and use of modern technology.
"This isn't the end of this event," Central Junior High Principal Ted Juneau said. "As we go about our business Monday we'll have a sense of responsibility to make sure it works."
Williams will talk about plans developed at the conference during her report Monday at the school board meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the School District Service Center, 3705 Clinton Pkwy.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.