Okemos School District plans to expand

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The Okemos School District has been taking significant steps to not only improve the quality of learning throughout their schools, but to also improve the overall K-12 experience for students, staff and families.

With the board tackling some of their said-to-be most critical issues, they hope to renew and enhance their school district’s reputation.

One of the first priorities the board touched on was to develop programs beyond the core that make Okemos more unique and competitive. Throughout the past decade, Okemos has been struggling to become more innovative and creative with the K-12 experience it offers to the public.

“We need to explore and implement K-12 innovative instructional tools and programming such as 1:1 classrooms, flipping classrooms, and an increase in online-testing,” said John Hood. Once the proper resources are in place (i.e staff equity and operational plan), Hood is more than confident these new instructional tools will benefit the school district in ways they have yet to realize.

The question is, what’s a good starting point? The superintendent feels examining the “who” seems to be another important contributor to this goal.

“We need to evaluate ‘who’ is invited to academic, extra-curricular programs,” said Hood, “becoming more exclusive as to who is allowed to instruct and access these resources might help with efficiency and timeliness.”

Furthermore, another common goal is to increase enrollment steadily each academic school year. With this, Okemos feels that it’ll only make sense to continually maintain attractive, safe, functional and high-quality facilities and grounds.

“We have applied for a school safety grant and are also applying for some additional external safety measures within the high school,” said Hood. The initial action is to evaluate the current condition of facilities, grounds and bus fleet. This will serve as a benchmark and starting point for this issue. Once evaluated, the next step would be to develop a short range plan for repairs and replacements.

Like most institutions, managing finances plays a major role in the development and sustainability of the institution. Okemos goal is to manage financial resources to support instruction and services that sustain a quality educational experience.

Seeking to determine feasibility and practicality in areas such as energy savings/grants, building a site sinking fund, rebates, EPA grants (bus purchases), and fundraising opportunities.

“We need to have something in place to understand what’s achievable and not set ourselves up for unrealistic expectations,” said Sarah Wohlfrd, a board member.

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