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Wellesley school officials seeking resident feedback for long-term education plan

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  April 8, 2013 04:45 PM

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What do you like about Wellesley public schools, and what do you think should be done to improve them?

These are the essential questions behind a long-term education goal plan that Wellesley school officials are forming, and hope to complete drafting, this year.

Wellesley superintendent David Lussier, who was hired this summer after former superintendent Bella Wong resigned, said the three-to-five year plan seeks to centralize district-wide goals, which would help clarify other decisions on key issues like the school's budget and individual school renovations.

The plan will emphasize school programs and student skills the school district hopes to strengthen, but will also identify any district shortcomings and try to address them.

"This about going from good to great," Lussier said. "Not having a plan would lead to a lack of coherence - if there is a decision made about a program, initiative, or particular policy, it may not necessarily make sense when you crosswalk that with something else. We really want a path forward to help make these choices."

Residents are asked to complete an online survey through April 12 so the school can collect more feedback. The survey is available at surveymonkey.com/s/VNZ5LD5.

Lussier said he recommended creating the long-term plan during his interviews for the job, noting that to his knowledge, Wellesley has not created such a plan in recent history.

Lussier said he hopes the draft will be finalized and approved by the end of this year. He wants to make a preliminary report on its progress at a to-be-determined spring School Committee meeting.

Lussier said the district has been meeting with parents, teachers, student, higher education officials, and business leaders for the past two months to gather input on the skills needed for students to succeed past high school and college - a main focus of the plan.

He said although most people so far agree that Wellesley offers "tremendous teachers," many want to see the district emphasize skill sets that help students adapt to a heavily tech-savvy world, and to teach them not be afraid of trying new initiatives and business ventures - even if the project fails.

Lussier also said many locals have brought up the failing conditions of Wellesley elementary schools.

However, he noted that the district this month has submitted statement of interests to the state for help designing and funding renovations or new buildings for three elementary schools: Hardy, Hunnewell and Schofield.

"The list of all the work that needs to be done is significant in terms of scope and cost," Lussier said, noting that the town is especially focusing on renovating Schofield, which has the most serious problems.

He said he hopes to gather as much public input as possible this month, before moving on to using the information to formulate the plan based on the input.

"The district has a lot of strengths, prior to me stepping foot in Wellesley," Lussier said. "I'm building off of a very strong foundation."

For more information on the strategic planning process, visit the public school district's website.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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