Aitkin School

"If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail.”

A special Aitkin School Board meeting was held on Sept. 30. The meeting began with a closed session for labor negotiations, and reopened about an hour later to discuss goal-setting for the board.

“If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail,” said board member John Chute, who said he’s been encouraging the board to develop a strategic plan for the past eight years.

Board member Joe Ryan added that the strategic plan must come from a teaching and educational standpoint. “It’s the reason families will stay here, come here, and the reason teachers are content,” Ryan stated.

The board categorized its areas of focus into short-  and long-term facility/maintenance needs, and student learning.

Board member Dennis Hasskamp said he would like to prioritize the development of a rough site plan of the district’s land south of Aitkin under short-term needs. Board member Jeremy Janzen agreed, adding that unused portions of the land can be sold off short-term. “If the vision is to have an elementary school there in 10 years and a high school there in 15 years, we need to have that planned out,” Janzen said.

Hasskamp said another short-term priority is the remodeling project.

General areas of property access, fields and facilities should be determined short-term, Ryan said, “Not the specifics.” Board member Kevin Hoge added that location of utilities must be determined first.

Chair Cindi Hills said the district must also work on accountability by conducting regular evaluations of staff and the new superintendent. Hills clarified the board would be responsible for ensuring that evaluations are completed and would oversee the process, not the outcomes.

Board member John Chute recommended reviewing curriculum not only to state standards, but to accommodate Aitkin’s needs. “We should be catering to our students in our areas,” Chute said. “Yes, we need to have good, safe, sound facilities, but the number one thing is the need to equip teachers, students and classrooms to go onto the next phase of life. Where do the students get the biggest bang for the buck? Where do we prioritize?”

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