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Patriot Perspective: High expectations

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Over the past three months our community has offered a lot of meaningful input about the future of education here in the Pequot Lakes School District.

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We’ve heard from our parents, our local business leaders, our communities of faith, our teachers and staff, and our elected officials. Through an online survey, a public input listening session, and through many forums with community groups we have gathered a healthy amount of input that is now being analyzed and synthesized by our school board and district leaders.

Some of the themes threading through input from multiple groups include:

• All students should feel safe, supported, cared for and inspired to learn.

• Students need to demonstrate mastery of communication skills, collaboration skills, problem solving skills and workplace soft skills to be competitive in tomorrow’s economy.

• Excellent school districts offer high caliber opportunities in the arts, in athletics and in rigorous academic programs that prepare our students for a diverse world.

• Our community expects a strong system of interventions and enrichments, including personalized learning plans, to ensure that all students learn at a high level.

• All students need to be competent in the use of tomorrow’s technology for workplace and life application.

• Rigorous Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pathways that prepare students for careers and postsecondary opportunities should be expanded.

• Providing access to postsecondary level coursework, including the opportunity to earn an AA degree, in the high school is strongly supported.

• Excellent schools are very intentional about communications and work to partner with parents and community groups, businesses, organizations and resources.

• Effective schools are results oriented, measure what matters, and implement action plans to continuously improve.

These are high expectations; but make no mistake, they are what I want for my own children. Our students do deserve a top notch education that helps them reach and surpass the goals they have for themselves. I am grateful to live in and serve a community that supports our efforts to ensure each student learns at a high level.

So what is next? Our board and district leaders will now use this input to craft our district 2020 vision statements and strategic directions that will guide our work over the next five-plus years. Development of metrics to measure our outcomes and our progress, complemented by action/improvement plans for each school and department, has already begun and will continue well into the year ahead.

Rigorous conversations about how to best use the resources of time, money and staff efforts are already under way as we challenge ourselves to deliver improved results. Pequot Lakes Schools receive and spend less per student than nearly all other Minnesota school districts (state average revenue per pupil is $10,433; Pequot Lakes revenue per pupil is less than $7,000), so increasing some opportunities may require eliminating others.

These are tough conversations and choices, but if we are doing our work right, these conversations will be robust and never ending in our pursuit of greatness.

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