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Columbus third graders will move to the middle school this fall due to a rise in enrollment and lack of space in the elementary school. 

It’s been one year since the Columbus School District started a bold new vision and the district is ready to celebrate and update the community on what it’s accomplished in the last 12 months.

To update Columbus on the Launch initiative, the school district will host an information session Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Columbus Middle School Gym. Superintendent Annette Deuman said the event will not only celebrate the one-year anniversary of Launch, but will also remind parents, teachers and students of the program’s key priorities.

The catalyst for developing Launch began a couple years ago – Deuman’s first year with the district – when the Columbus School Board was working to create a long-term strategic plan. Deuman said the board and district administrators wanted a plan that would encompass the entire Columbus community, not just the schools.

“Most of the work I’ve ever been involved in when it came to strategic planning, included a much broader group of people to access where the district is and then using that data and that information to create the strategies moving forward,” Deuman said. “Once the board heard that they were very much on board with including the broader community in the strategic plan.”

Besides those directly connected with Columbus schools, Launch includes local business owners, church leaders, and other organizations with a stake in the future of K-12 education. In early October 2016, the group met for three days to discuss strategies for Launch, formulate goals, and design a long-term plan. They had a particular date in mind to reach the program’s objectives.

“We chose the year 2030 because last year, at that time, our 4K students will graduate in that year,” Deuman said. “It will be an opportunity to see those kids all the way though.”

Once the date was determined, the group set six key priorities for Launch. Those priorities are focused on auxiliaries (facilities), STEAM opportunities, student needs covering social needs, student needs covering co-curriculars, community involvement and technology. They also created a three-year plan to hit short-term goals and make sure Launch is staying on course to reach all the objectives by 2030.

“Thirteen years out is a long time, but we wanted to break it down more in increments where we could really put together a solid action plan and we could report back on those plans and see where we’re at,” Deuman said.

The superintendent said staff and community reaction to Launch has been mostly positive. Deuman said staff commitment and feedback is essential to the program’s success. The district has provided a few updates to the community since the program launched.

“The community has been excited about some of the action plan initiatives we’ve already completed,” Deuman said. “Of course some are going to feel like we’re not moving fast enough on some items they’re passionate about. But it takes time. We really wanted to take these first three years to access where we currently are.”

The district wants to lay a strong foundation for Launch so it has a chance to meet all priorities in the next 13 years. At the Oct. 11 meeting, Deuman will look for feedback from community members and staff on whether Launch is meeting its early goals. Suggestions will be ranked and the group will determine which of those are most important.

Deuman said it’s vital for school districts to share a common vision with its community.

“It’s more of a vision of all the other aspects of what we need to do to get to academic achievement,” Deuman said.

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