Monday, May 18, 2020

Weekly Updates - thinking about the future

The pandemic has been an interesting time as it relates to "thinking ahead".  Like many (most) institutions, we have had to be so focused on the present and the ever changing landscape, that thinking ahead has been challenging.  Even so - that has been a critical part of our district leadership's time, especially as of late.  Even with relatively limited information, we are doing everything we can to think about some big questions that lie before us.  Most of these questions somehow relate to that critical question - "what does school look like in the fall?"

Unfortunately, we have generally had to respond with "we don't know yet".  However, there are some developments taking place right now that are leading us in the direction of some answers taking shape.

First - it is becoming increasingly apparent that we're going to get some guidance on what school can/should look like from the state.  In a press conference on Friday, our governor announced that a school task force is being convened to provide guidelines for the fall.  In addition, there are three other committees representing rural, suburban, and urban school districts that are reporting their work to this state task force directly.  The bottom line is that there is a plan being formulated with input from school districts from all across the state.

Second - there has been some movement at the state regarding budget for both this fiscal year and next fiscal year as well.  Unfortunately, this news has not been particularly positive at this time.  While certainly expected due to the economic impacts of COVID19, these budget realizations are likely to make for some hard times ahead as schools and other government institutions seek out ways to work within our means while having as little adverse impact on our core mission as possible.

Third - I'm pleased that we've made some progress with shorter term decision making regarding how we can best finish out this school year, honor our graduates, and set ourselves up for success in the long term.  As has been noted previously, Benzie Central has now set a date for commencement exercises (June 28th) and is working on contingencies for whatever guidelines may be at that time regarding public gatherings such as this.  We also are doing scheduling for next year at all of our buildings, and continue to provide remote instruction as we move toward the "official" end of the school year on June 11th. 

And finally, as you may have already heard, Benzie Central is moving forward with a bond proposal vote set for Tuesday August 4th.  This new proposal was created following feedback from our community and is designed to address many of the concerns raised from past proposals while ultimately keeping priorities following years of hard work on the part of active community members and school staff regarding the long term needs of the district.  More information about this will be forthcoming over the weeks and months ahead leading up to this critical vote.

It may be raining today, but the grass is also greening, leaves are popping, and beautiful days lie ahead.  Springtime is a powerful metaphor for circumstances like we find ourselves in with the current coronavirus pandemic.  It may be raining and gloomy today, but we know better times are ahead.  We look forward to being together again, working for a stronger community, and continuing to provide a world-class education for our next generation.

Take care and be well!

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