SIAC committee finalizes MFL MarMac’s goals for next five years

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

MFL MarMac’s School Improvement Advisement Committee (SIAC) met last week, finalizing the district’s goals for its next five-year strategic plan (2015-2020).

The group—made up of school staff, parents and other community members—split the district’s goals into four different categories: the marketing of the school, technology, programs and academics and facilities.

Marketing, or promoting, the school more was a major area of consensus among committee members. Many good things are happening at MFL MarMac, members stressed, but the public doesn’t always know about them.

Enhanced promotion will include maintaining an online presence through the district’s new website, which will launch at the start of the next school year. The group also agreed forming a bigger presence on social media would be helpful, citing the success of several Bulldog sports-related Facebook pages. In addition, building on this year’s success, the district will look to livestream more school sporting events, concerts and other activities online.

High school principal Josh Mallicoat said the school is open to various means of promotion, whether through radio, YouTube or other mediums. He suggested utilizing students in communications classes to help develop material. Superintendent Dale Crozier said a special committee could be created to solely focus on promotion of MFL MarMac.

The SIAC committee also advocated for increased technology use throughout the district, including utilization of technology committees already in place. They also want to see an increase in 21st century, progressive academics, including the infusion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) throughout the entire PK-12 curriculum. Increasing virtual learning and a more personalized or individualized learning experience was included, as well.

In the programs and academics area, the committee agreed the school should search out more opportunities to expand before and after school programs at all levels.

Also important to the group was providing students with increased career awareness rather than just career planning. The reality, many said, is that most people switch careers several times over their lives, so students should be prepared.

“It’s that lifelong learning that will fit into any career,” said Melissa Haberichter, a parent and MFL MarMac teacher-librarian.

“Ideally, you want them to leave and be able to create their own career,” added Mallicoat, who noted he’d like to see the district offer more advanced placement courses, with students, in turn, taking more of those courses. “They’re more rigorous, like a college course.”

The group also wanted the strategic plan to include exploring curriculum expansion options in the areas of the social sciences, which oftentimes gets neglected compared to math and reading, as well as diversity.

“It’s not that we’re bad at providing [information about diversity],” Crozier noted. “It’s just that we don’t have it, so anything we can do there is good.”

Further development of the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program at all age levels was also emphasized.

The need for improved health and wellness initiatives was viewed as another important programming focus. That includes more physical education options and nutrition options, including a salad bar. The group wants to enhance breakfast and lunch programs and even investigate a summer lunch program.

One programming item the group chose to cut from the list was increased bullying prevention, feeling the school was already working to raise awareness. That would happen regardless of whether or not it was included on the strategic plan, staff members said.

The last area, facilities, includes improving school playgrounds, a move that’s already being done at the elementary school. Members also felt it was necessary to address the high school gym, which now has a stage that is not utilized.

“Taking the stage out is laden with problems, so it might be easier to build a new gym,” Crozier said, “but that’s something the board needs to decide.”

Elementary space and bathroom issues also need to be addressed, he added.

Other facilities aspects the group felt could use improving are the school’s signage, both inside and outside, and entrance aesthetics. At the Monona site, people are sometimes confused as to which part of the building is actually the front of the school, making it difficult for those seeking to enter either the elementary or high school. Members noted signs along the highway and on Main Street could be improved and made more visible. Inside, better signage could be used to direct people toward certain rooms or offices.

At the meeting, the SIAC committee was also given the option to re-vamp the school’s mission statement. While not the group’s top priority, Crozier said now would be a good time to do so if the committee felt it was needed. 

Developed in 2003, the current mission statement read: “The Mission of the MFL MarMac School District is to meet the needs of all students and guide them to their fullest potential as productive and responsible citizens.”

The committee chose not to change much, but suggested the words “college- or career-ready” replace productive and responsible. That way, it includes all the students who graduate from MFL MarMac, no matter the path they take following high school.

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