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As school districts are being asked to do more with less, Chadron Public Schools is undertaking a new strategic planning effort, seeking community input on several issues to aid in the district’s two to five year planning.

A community-wide rollout of the district’s strategic planning outreach will include a screening of a new film by Nebraska Loves Public Schools. “Seeds of Hope” will be screened Sept. 27 at noon at the Chadron State College Student Center Ballroom.

There are four themes around which the district is starting its strategic planning process:

*What is particularly satisfying to you about Chadron Public Schools? What is concerning?

*What value does CPS bring to the community?

*How might the district increase its collaboration in the community?

*Given the declining approval of schools in the media, what’s your hunch about what is producing that?

As you consider those issues, be sure to take a step back and think about where education in this country began. According to Jamie Robert Vollmer, Massachusetts Puritans established schools in 1640 to teach basic reading, some writing and math and to cultiviate values important in a democratic society. Over the last three weeks, I reviewed the additions to the education curriculum and responsibilities through the first 80 years of the 1900s. The list of responsibilities has only continued to grow.

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From conflict resolution to HIV education and CPR training, the 1990s expanded education once again. The decade also saw the inclusion of expanded computer and internet education, technical prep and school-to-work programs, distance learning, post-secondary and concurrent enrollment options, expanded talented and gifted opportunities, at risk and dropout prevention duties, homeless and gang education, service learning and a host of safety education initiatives (i.e. bus, bicycle, gun and water). The 1990s also began the explosion in education assessment responsibilities.

No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top initiatives were added in the first decade of the 21st Century, as were bully and anti-harassment prevention policies, expanded early childcare and wrap around programs, elevator and escalator safety instruction, obesity monitoring, organ donor education, personal financial literacy and entrepreneurial and innovation skills development, media literacy, health and wellness programs and contextual learning skills development.

Given the ever-expanding list of things we ask our public schools to do to help shape our children’s futures, I think it’s only fair we help them plan for doing so. Plan to attend the Sept. 27 event or reach out to administrators with your thoughts.

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