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School board moves toward community ed

Establishing a school district community education program moved forward last week as the school board's Personnel Committee recommended a job description for the coordinator of such a program.

At its regular meeting Monday July 19, the school board will vote on the job description. A full-time community-ed coordinator would be paid roughly $45,000 a year, plus benefits, according to Superintendent Tom Westerhaus.

Starting a community ed program was Action Plan #7, under the district's Strategic Planning initiative. Six strategic planning groups made up of local citizens brainstormed a list of 39 "Action Plans" to implement over five years.

The school board approved the list earlier in the year.

Westerhaus calls the Action Plans his "marching orders."

Since his arrival two years ago, Westerhaus has forged an ongoing Strategic Planning system to keep the district's educational agenda fresh and in sync with the community's wishes.

Action Plan #7 reads: "There will be a comprehensive community education program to promote community engagement and lifelong learning for (citizens) of all ages."

Several job descriptions for the proposed community-ed coordinator are:

  • Coordinate, supervise and direct community education programs and staff.

    Identify existing resources and encourage interagency cooperation to ensure maximum use of community resources.

  • Assist in the development, organization and maintenance of a balanced program for all segments of the community in areas of lifelong education.
  • Implement, recruit, train and supervise the Senior Tax Exchange Program. (STEP is a program offered by some districts that allows seniors to work in the schools and apply their earnings toward payment of property taxes.)
  • Maintain a districtwide schedule for school facilities for community education and communitywide activities.
  • Implement a public relations plan to enhance school district communication and promote community education.
  • Coordinate and distribute school district newsletter.
  • Develop and maintain school district's community education website.

Westerhaus called the community-ed job description a "first step."

"What we are looking to do is to try to define the position and the program," he said.

Community-ed programs in neighboring school districts, such as Hudson, New Richmond and Prescott, were studied and used as models.

Westerhaus said community-ed classes will be fee-based to offset part of the costs. However, the new program will be a budgeted expense.

Westerhaus said community education will result in a very small levy increase for the district's property taxpayers.

That levy increase will be voted on Monday evening, Aug. 16, during the school district's Annual Meeting held at the high school library.

Read more about community ed and the school board's activities in the July 15 print edition of the River Falls Journal.