ACGC School Board sets goals during retreat

GROVE CITY -- Now that its goal of getting an operating levy approved has been met, the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board is setting new goals for the district.

GROVE CITY -- Now that its goal of getting an operating levy approved has been met, the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board is setting new goals for the district.

During a board retreat Monday at the Atwater Community Center, board members did some brainstorming about short-term and long-term goals that can be incorporated into the district's strategic plan for the future.

Student achievement -- including improving test scores, updating the curriculum, financial management and improving communications with the public about the district emerged as the priority goals.

"It's a work in progress," said Chairwoman Judy Raske, who encouraged board members to select goals that were "broad enough" to allow creative options and didn't saddle the board with rigid constraints.

Interim Superintendent Roger Rueckert will take the list back to school administrators who will then make recommendations about how to achieve the goals.


Some recommendations may be brought to the board for action Aug. 25 during the next board meeting.

Public input will also be sought during the process of establishing a long-range strategic plan for the district to give the community "ownership" of the school district and its future, Raske said.

Curriculum development, which also includes staff development, is a goal that's closely linked with student achievement, Raske said.

The state requires schools to use 2 percent of its basic revenue for staff development to meet student achievement goals.

Schools that are in statutory operating debt, which means deficit spending exceeds state standards, are allowed to use staff development money for general fund spending.

ACGC has been in statutory operating debt since 2005. As a result, areas like developing new curriculum and purchasing new textbooks, have been put on hold at ACGC.

Now that it appears the district may be able to get out of statutory operating debt, the district will need to dedicate that money for staff development, estimated at $90,000, instead of using it to keep out of debt.

One of the first tasks the board is expected to pursue is to establish site committees that will include staff from the district's different school buildings and possibly community residents. The committees will review the current curriculum, make recommendations for purchasing new textbooks and establish a cycle for continued updating of material.


When the discussion began, board member Rick Nordin said he wanted to see the family and consumer science classes and more music options returned to ACGC. Both areas were cut as part of the district's efforts to get out of statutory operating debt.

But during the process of coming to a consensus on the goals -- including financial management and improving test scores -- Nordin acknowledged that adding back programs could be difficult.

How can the district "meld that back into the curriculum" while maintaining a stable budget, he asked.

Board member Gwen Chase said the district should consider sharing specialty teachers with other districts. "We need to think out of the box," she said.

After taking it on the chin and enduring regular public scrutiny and criticism during the last few years, the board members agreed they want to improve the district's image and community relationship.

Chase said there are still misconceptions and misinformation about the district that could be countered with positive information.

The board agreed that the public presence the board and staff maintained during discussion of the levy should continue.

Rueckert said the district has a "golden opportunity" to draw the community in and show them the value of supporting the school. "Public relations should be on the agenda," he said. As a new superintendent to the district, Rueckert said he's "excited" to be on the ground floor of the district's new beginnings.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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