Archive for Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Superintendent forms advisory panel for school district

New leader of Basehor-Linwood schools seeks communication and guidance on prioritization of goals

July 16, 2003

Basehor-Linwood's new superintendent is looking for a few good people who are willing to speak out.

Actually, Jill Hackett is interested in gathering together about 80 people to join the district's new advisory council.

"I want representatives from all of the attendance centers," said Hackett, who officially took over as the district's superintendent last week. "I mean parents, teachers, non-teachers, community members, city leaders from both towns, business people, Realtors, planning commissioners.

"I need broad representation. I'm in the process of developing a list that will be all-inclusive."

The move is necessary, in Hackett's view, because earlier this year patrons of the school district rejected a $29 million bond issue -- twice. In January and again in April, voters said no to a bond issue that would have financed a new middle school, as well as renovations to Basehor, Linwood and Glenwood Ridge elementary schools.

School district officials moved some classrooms this summer to help alleviate crowded conditions.

"We feel, at this time for this school year, we'll be fine," said Hackett, who is the former assistant superintendent of the Goddard School District, west of Wichita. She replaced Cal Cormack, who retired.

Once the advisory board is formed, Hackett hopes it will turn its attention to drafting plans for the future. Clearly, the district's buildings and how they're used will attract a good deal of the advisory board's attention.

"I want the committee to prioritize for me what they think ought to be our top goals," Hackett said. "I would be very surprised if facilities didn't come out on top."

And Hackett doesn't plan on recommending to the local school board that it try to pass another bond issue until the advisory board decides what the district should do with its buildings.

"I want to see how the community responds to it, if they will participate," she said. "My guess is they will. My feeling is, as a leader in this district, I need to have a forum, an opportunity, to meet with all of these people on a semi-regular basis."

She anticipates the group would meet monthly or every two months.

During her first few days on the job, Hackett has been meeting district patrons, whenever and wherever she can. She attended last week's Linwood City Council meeting.

"I think people communicate and make their opinions fairly clear," she said. "There's a real sense of honesty and integrity that I really like. They're honest and candid and very direct as well. I find people are very willing to visit with me. I like that. I welcome it."

She's also the parent of a preschooler and a second-grader.

"I have a vested interest, too," she said. "My own children will be educated here."

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