District 34’s Community Engagement program off and running

GLENVIEW — School District 34 in Glenview has put together a team of school officials and residents to develop a broad agenda of education issues for students.

Known as the Community Engagement effort, public meetings are scheduled throughout the year to discuss and share ideas among the team and community.

A district memo stated the issues under consideration are goals of the Strategic Plan the district set in 2012 that included maximizing students’ education and sound financials to support learning.

Once the topics are discussed and formalized, they will be brought before the 34 Board of Education for review and adoption as objectives or goals.

Glenview residents Bill Utter and Dan O’Brian are co-chairs of the Community Engagement group, consisting of 10 residents, four school district leaders and two outside consultants from Unicom.

“This is a different approach to discussing education because it has a formal structure to get community members involved with small breakout groups,” Utter said.

“Hopefully, we can get insights from a cross section of the community.”

As a grassroots effort, Community Engagement will not be “promoting certain positions,” O’Brian said.

“There are a lot of people in Glenview who don’t have kids, and we want to hear from them, too. This is all about what can happen in the future,” he said.

“Everything we do is open to the public. It’s all about transparency,” he added.

The first Community Engagement session is scheduled for the week of Sept. 10.

A time, place and date will be announced on District 34’s website at www.glenview34.org.

District 34 has eight schools — three primary and intermediate and two middle schools. Student enrollment is 4,923.

District Superintendent Michael Nicholson said the sessions also could focus on most recent trends and strategies in educating students.

“It’s about how education has changed internally and externally at District 34 and beyond us,” he said, explaining an internal issue could be how demographics will change enrollments.

An external topic, for example, was test assessment standards set by the state, Nicholson said.

District 34 has not had a similar community input group in 12 years, stated the memo, but residents were full participants in more focused efforts, such as strategic planning in 2011-12.

Other community initiatives were the district boundary committee the same years and the budget alignment group in fall 2011.

“Education is not what it was 12 years ago,” Nicholson said.

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