You've probably heard the axiom, 'If you don't know where you're going, any old road will get you there.'

As we develop a new strategic plan in the Forest Grove School District, we're enlisting the help of students, staff and community to help us map a direction for the next five years.

We don't want to take 'any old road' to get there. We're being purposeful and listening to those who have a vested interest in our schools, so that we go in a direction that reflects the values and beliefs of our community.

We started this mapping process with a community kickoff in September. Since then we've held between 40 and 50 focus groups with various parts of our community to hear people's thoughts about the district and their ideas for our future.

We've met separately with parents and staff from each school in the district. We've had focus groups with students, business representatives, the faith community, Latino parents and others. Written notes were taken at every meeting.

It's been a wonderful process with lively discussions. Participants have been forthright in sharing their views of everything from the administration to curriculum to school lunches.

In January, a 16-member mapping team will begin work to pull all this information together and create a draft plan. The team includes high school students, parents, business people, teachers and administrators. Together, they will review all of the meeting notes and decipher the dominant themes and ideas.

They expect to have a draft completed by March and will then invite the community to review it and offer input. Afterwards, the mapping team will go back to work to make any revisions that may be necessary before finalizing the document and presenting it to the School Board for adoption.

The new strategic plan will go into effect in July 2007. It will include concrete objectives for our district and strategies for achieving them. It will be a living document that will be used to guide our decision making from 2007 until 2012. What it won't be is just a piece of paper that sits on a shelf until it's time for another revision.

If you weren't part of a focus group, but would still like to offer input, it's not too late. Just e-mail us, and we'll send you the five questions that were asked. We'd love your participation in this important process.

Connie Potter is the public information/volunteer coordinator for the Forest Grove School District. You can e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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