Rangely board to pare its planning

RANGELY — More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to strategic planning.
That’s something the Rangely School Board is finding out.
The board recently had a review of its strategic plan by Focal Point LLC and educational consultants Mike Miles and Andrea Kutinsky.
“They said we’re trying to do too much at one time,” said Rangely Superintendent Dwayne Newman. “Their suggestion is to pare it down to four or five priorities. You do those things and you do them well.”
The board reviewed the Focal Point report at its Jan. 12 meeting.
Newman said the prioritizing applies not only to goal setting, but it carries over to budgeting as well.
“Really, what you do is you analyze your system and find those items that are going to have a ripple effect on other aspects of student achievement,” Newman said. “You look for the common thread. You find where a little bit of expenditure gets you the most payback.
“They said all the work that we identified (in the strategic plan and budget) is important work, but we just took too big of a bite this first year,” said Newman who is in his first year as superintendent of the Rangely district. “That we’d be wise to look for those places where we get more bank for the buck.”
Even though it is only the first month of 2009, the district is already beginning to think about the budget for 2010.
“We’re trying to get the staff, the community and the board to be thinking about the big picture, the strategic plan, and how the financial resources ought to follow the priorities in the plan,” Newman said.
The representatives from Focal Point spent time in the district in December, observing and talking to teachers and students. They then made a presentation to administrators Jan. 4, and staff on Jan. 5.
“They were impressed with the dedication of the teaching staff here,” Newman said. “They just said we were a little too enthusiastic on what we could get done (planning and budgeting). They helped us narrow our focus.”
The Focal Point recommendations were “good advice” for the district and where it wants to go in the future, Newman said.
“We’re not going to do budget the way we have done budget in the past,” Newman said. “I’ve asked staff to really look at expenditures. To ask, ‘Do I really need to do this for a specific reason to get us to the goals we are wanting to achieve?’ Our discretionary budget spending is really a pretty small percentage of the budget. But that 5 percent is really important on how to make focused decisions on how we spend that.”
In other business:
n Representatives for the district interviewed six construction companies Jan. 13 to serve as general contractor on the $15 million school remodeling projects.
“We had 30 inquiries, 19 submittals and we whittled it down to six finalists,” said Newman, who sat in on the interviews. “Each group had 20 minutes to give a presentation, and then we spent 25 minutes asking them pointed questions.”
A recommendation will be presented to the board at its Jan. 26 meeting.
“The group that’s going to be recommended stood out based on their response to (the questions) what they are going to do to involve local vendors and contractors and what they do for the communities they’re (working) in,” Newman said. “The group that we picked really had the best answer in both regards. They were very community-minded. Those are the kinds of folks we want working with us.”
n The board approved one-year lease agreements for three businesses renting space in the Early Education Center, which formerly housed the district’s administrative offices. The building, which is owned by the district, is for sale.
“But it will be tough to sell a building that size in this economy,” Newman said.