Keeping pace with the initiative’s main goal – community involvement – the Columbus School District received feedback and suggestions about its Launching a New Legacy Program during its one-year anniversary event Oct. 11.

Held inside the middle school gym, staff members, administrators, board members and residents gathered to discuss Launch’s priorities and its vision for the future. The initiative started last year, laying out short-term goals for 2017-2020. The district’s long-term vision is to meet all six of the program’s priorities by 2030, the year this year’s kindergarten class graduates from Columbus High School.

According to the district, Launch was created to “address the evolving needs of our students’ future.” The Oct. 11 event aimed to provide an update on what Launch has accomplished in the past year, share reactions and hear feedback from those who attended and strengthen the connection between Columbus schools and the community.

Superintendent Annette Deuman said one of the key messages she received from the community when Launch began was “we have to have rigorous curriculum and provide top-notch teachers for our students.”

Launch’s six priorities are:

  • create a community campus by building needed facilities and amenities,
  • expand hands-on STEAM opportunities for students,
  • address students’ social needs, such as poverty and mental health with community collaboration,
  • offer a wide variety of course offerings and co-curricular activities to address student needs, develop and
  • expand community partnerships, and implement and sustain up-to-date technology at each school.

Each table received a placemat, outlining action steps for each priority, steps accomplished, ongoing steps and best practices going forward.

Deuman said action plans will be broken into three-year periods to target short-term goals.

“2030 is still 13 years away so we didn’t want to make it too broad,” Deuman said. “This allows us to address those short-term needs and move forward to accomplish those long-term goals.”

The superintendent said Launch also focuses on the district’s commitment to make sure all students are prepared for college, careers and life after they leave CHS.

“All of this ties to all of our students being ready,” Deuman said.

To generate ideas and keep Launch moving along, Columbus hired consultant Drew Howick who has worked with other schools in the Midwest on similar projects. Howick said he’s impressed with the work Launch has accomplished in its first year.

“You should feel proud of what is occurring and what will continue to occur,” Howick said.

Howick allowed groups at each table to brainstorm and generate reactions, along with feedback and ideas to improve the plan.

One group said the initiative sets a good foundation for the district. They were also pleased with recent administrative hires because they bring “new eyes and ears” and fresh ideas. Some groups expressed disappointment the district isn’t investing in long-term facility improvements, only looking at short-term fixes.

Another citizen thought the program is good because it will help the community grasp the curriculum at the schools.

“The parents sometimes don’t understand what the children are learning,” said one resident.

Another group expressed gratitude that Launch is addressing social needs, especially mental health and wellness. But the same group also wants to see more facility improvements at both the middle school and high school.

“I like the transparency of this,” one group leader said. “This whole process has been very open to the public.”

A district-wide survey was also sent to residents to gauge feedback. One resident said the survey was an ideal way to update residents because “some people think when they hear Launch, they think ‘new school’ so I’m glad to see the survey was sent out.”

Contact Kevin Damask at 608-963-7323 or on Twitter @kdamask