Sparta Area School District seeking input on strategic plan

   The Sparta Area School District is seeking input from community members and others with a vested interest in Sparta schools to help plan for the future.
   A strategic planning committee is looking at the priorities of the district and wants the public’s help.
   The committee, which includes a variety of community members, community leaders, school board members, teachers and administrators, developed a short survey, available electronically or in paper form, in which participants are asked to rank district components and Sparta’s performance in certain areas.
   “A community survey is a very important part of a strategic plan,” said Superintendent John Hendricks. “The survey wants to know what community members value in their school system and what they want to see as priorities in the future so the school board can plan to meet those priorities.”
   “It’s an opportunity to get input from the community so we can identify what it thinks the strengths and challenges are for the district,” said committee member Marsha Lukasek, a marriage and family therapist for Gundersen Behavioral Health.
   The committee also included school board members Lee Culpitt, Joan Cook, Bambi Schmitz, Gary Kirking, James Rasmussen, Karen Wall and Susan Bickford; school administrators Liz Dostal, Leah Hauser, Sam Russ, and Hendricks; faculty Sara Anderson, Chad Guns, Wendy Bernett, Steve Dunn and Sara Kemp; and community members Ryan Tichenor, Renae Caldwell, David Kuderer, Alfonso Sanchez, Rev. Rey Diaz, Todd Fahning, Jerolyn Grandall, Bob Lydon, Dave Eitland, Karen Craig and Kaleen Caulkins.
   The group has met regularly since October to develop a strategic plan for the district, which is a document used to communicate the district’s goals, and actions needed to achieve those goals. The district has not had a strategic plan in place before.
   Anderson, a SAILS teacher, said it’s been interesting to hear different perspectives from the variety of people on the committee.
   “To come together as a group to find ways to make our school district better for our community as a whole is awesome. The survey that will be going out to the Sparta community took a lot of thought and effort, and hopefully, will give us some input that will help us to move forward. I know that as a teacher and as a parent, I want that for the students in the Sparta School District,” said Anderson.
   Dunn, a high school custodian and owner of Franklin Victorian Bed & Breakfast, also felt the diversity of the group helped to identify varying strengths and challenges.
   “It is great to see a group come together and be proactive to plan for the future of our schools and kids. The committee consists of a diverse group of excellent people who represent the fabric of our community well,” said Dunn. “The success of our schools impacts everyone, even if they currently do not have children in school. It affects the growth and success of the businesses, citizens, the community and people who are members of our community in any way.”
   He said he hopes that people will take time to complete the survey so the committee can continue its work to develop the strategic plan.
   “People will have the opportunity to give the committee valuable input, and I hope we have a lot of people who will take the opportunity to do so. The more input and information they share, the better to plan for the future success of our children and community,” said Dunn.
   “It’s an opportunity for the community to take ownership with what is happening in our district,” added Lukasek.
   Survey takers need not be residents of Sparta or have children in the district. They could be people who work in Sparta and have a vested interest in the students the district is producing. The survey also is open to students in eighth grade and up.
   The survey should only take about five minutes. People who prefer to take the survey electronically may visit
Paper copies will be available at many locations throughout the city and may be filled out and turned in at the same place. Committee members also will be on hand at various sporting events this week, and at the Meadowview Food Pantry and in the entry of Hansen’s IGA to offer surveys.
   It also is printed in today’s Sparta Herald and may be mailed in to the address on the bottom of the survey.
   The survey is open through Jan. 31. If mailed, paper copies must be received by Feb. 1 or postmarked by Jan. 31.

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