Libby school board reviews draft goals

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | November 13, 2020 7:00 AM

In an effort to solidify their educational and outreach goals, members of the Libby Public School Board reviewed a draft strategic plan aimed at helping guide the district for the next three years during a Nov. 2 meeting.

The central objectives outlined by the proposal include creating technology training strategies, improving college and career readiness, drafting facility plans, developing mental health resources and expanding parent community and stakeholder engagement in district initiatives.

Ellen Johnston, board chair, pointed out the importance of nailing down short, mid and long-term maintenance schemes for facilities.

“We need a plan for the rest of the roofs, for the leaks at the elementary school, for the leaks at the high school, for the parking lots, the sidewalks,” she said.

To help bridge timelines and set priorities for each objective, Lori Benson, school board member, suggested the district develop a continuous maintenance plan.

Concerning technology training, Superintendent Ron Goodman said it was critical to verse multiple staff members on how to operate the district’s network.

“What happens if something happens to our key guy,” asked Goodman. “There needs to be some cross training so we can survive that. I don’t think we’re in the position now.”

Goodman pointed out the school district has already faced crippling technological problems that stemmed from a lack of know-how. Earlier this year, schools experienced a network burst when someone plugged in ethernet cable back into a router.

“There needs to be a better structure on that,” Goodman said.

School board members considered some elements of the plan, which was drafted before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, unrealistic under current conditions.

“Forming a group of parents, staff and students on cell phone policy is probably not the most important thing we have to do,” Johnston said.

Board members agreed to table the cell phone policy committee plan for at least a year.

The board considered some of the values the school district aims to impart on students and staff to be redundant amid the pandemic. While they plan to continue promoting grit and perseverance throughout schools and the community, members found that circumstances were already providing a healthy dose of these merits.

“It’s something we’re doing on a daily basis rather than something we’re trying to initiate,” said Alida Leigh, board member.

The board also decided to remove the goal of developing and funding a school resource officer from the plan. Libby voters have twice in recent years rejected bringing on a resource officer, even with Flathead Electric Cooperative agreeing to underwrite the position.

For Goodman, nailing down a concrete district-wide plan boils down to ensuring schools provide students with the instruction they need for success.

“It’s completely possible to have a beautiful building that is run smoothly and graduate students without any value being added to their lives,” Goodman said. “You can have all these trappings that are great. But if our kids aren’t walking out of the doors of Libby Public Schools with good solid academic skills … we haven’t done our job.”