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Community helps APS plan ahead

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Alpena Public Schools Superintendent David Rabbideau, standing at left, speaks to attendees of an APS strategic planning meeting in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

ALPENA — On Saturday, members of the community began the first steps toward improving Alpena Public Schools as they participated in a strategic planning session for the school district.

“It is wonderful to see such a diverse group in the room,” David Rabbideau, APS superintendent, told attendees of the meeting at Alpena High School. “I love that it really looks like everyone had a chance and felt comfortable enough to speak up. When we got all of that, people willing to participate, people that care enough about the schools — whether they’re happy with them or they’re not happy — being able to come here and have their voice heard, it was just really pleasing to see. And so I thank everyone for being here and being a part of this process.”

More than 50 participants from a variety of backgrounds — including APS teachers and other staff members, APS school board members, parents, students, and community leaders — gathered in the media center at the high school to assist APS in the development of future goals and expectations for the district.

Participants in small groups were asked to write down what they considered APS’s biggest strengths and weaknesses and present them to the rest of the attendees.

After all of the strengths and weaknesses were presented, participants hung their lists along the wall in the hallway and each participant was given three green stickers to place next to the issues they believed were the most important to either address, improve, or further develop.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of Alpena Public Schools’ strategic planning meeting present what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

Some of the most agreed-upon strengths mentioned included CTE programs, dedicated staff, and the school community.

Weaknesses discussed were mental health for students, promoting opportunities for students, and math and English language art scores.

According to Rabbideau, APS will take the information from Saturday’s activity and fine-tune it into tangible steps and goals that the APS Board of Education will discuss during its workshop on March 14.

“What we do now is we bring this back, we tabulate it,” Rabbideau said. “We’re going to be debriefing as a board around what we’ve seen here and talking about those next steps.”

The meeting was hosted by Rabbideau and Dan Wakeman, a retired health care system leader with more than 40 years of experience leading health care organizations through the strategic planning processes.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Alpena Public Schools Superintendent David Rabbideau, standing at left, speaks to attendees of an APS strategic planning meeting in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

Before the activity, Rabbideau summarized the current situation at APS, including the district’s geography and finances.

Wakeman discussed the importance of community alignment, diversity of thought, and collaboration for the strategic plan’s success.

“The key there was the alignment with the community,” said Wakeman. “You have board members, you have business people, you have students, you have a real diverse set of eyes looking at it … When you look at the size of the organization and its scope, with everybody having a common understanding, you’re gonna get a richer discussion.”

From there, Rabbideau hopes to see further discussion and development among district officials on the strategic plan as well as continued community involvement.

“There’ll be some back-and-forth between administration, the board, and reaching out to people will start to hone in on those goals, those action steps,” Rabbideau said. “That will be done with you involved.”

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting write down what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

Rabbideau hopes that the strategic meeting will act as the beginning of a dialogue between the district and the community that will help shape APS.

“This doesn’t end today,” Rabbideau told attendees. “It continues. I encourage you to come on the (March) 14th. And then we’ll be updating the public — we will plan to come back next summer and replicate this on a much shorter scale. We’ll have the plan identified and we’ll have the action steps. We’ll have the opportunity to make progress in different areas and provide a report.”

News Publisher Justin Hinkley participated in the strategic planning session as an APS parent and community member.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting write down what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Dan Wakeman, a retired health care system leader, standing at center, speaks to attendees of Alpena Public Schools’ strategic planning meeting in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting discuss what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting write down what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting write down what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting discuss what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting write down what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of Alpena Public Schools’ strategic planning meeting present what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of an Alpena Public Schools strategic planning meeting write down what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

News Photo by Temi Fadayomi Attendees of Alpena Public Schools’ strategic planning meeting present what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the school district in the media center at Alpena High School on Saturday.

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