to download the final Future Focus Team report, which was presented at the June 27, 2011 School Board meeting.
A shortened version of the report also is available
The district begin a third public engagement initiative in January 2011 modeled after the Discovery Team of 2008-09 and the Facility Use Task Force effort of 2009.
School Board authorized staff on Oct. 25, 2010 to move forward with plans to involve a team of citizens and staff in investigating and identifying educational priorities. The new initiative was known as Future Focus.
The need for formal public discussion grows out of the economic uncertainty facing the district and the state. Anoka-Hennepin has experienced three years without a funding increase and, based on the state's projected $5 to $7 million budget deficit, increases in the next couple of years are unlikely.
In addition, declining enrollment has resulted in state aid losses of $3.5 to $4.5 million annually. As a result, the district faces an operating deficit of $16 million in 2011-12 and $31.5 million in 2012-13 unless cuts are made. In addition, voters will be asked to renew a $48 million levy in November 2011. If the levy is turned down, the district will need to cut an additional $48 million.
Linda Rodgers, parent and involvement coordinator, and Mary Olson, director of communication and public relations, told the board they believe the Future Focus work is an important step in beginning public discussion of the changes that may be necessary in the district in response to funding challenges ahead.
Input from this process helped the board identify the most critical components of an education, taking into account local priorities and values.
Public engagement has become increasingly popular throughout the nation as a way grapple with emerging challenges. Research has show that well-conducted public processes result in more durable decisions than an internal-only process. In addition, they increase public support of decisions that have been made with this type of formal input.
Board member Kathy Tingelstad pointed out that both the Discovery Team and Facility Use Task Force were very successful. A number of school districts have contacted the district for information on these processes, plus the boundary change process, to help guide their own school closing or boundary change processes.
Recruitment and selection of team members occured in November-December of 2010 and the formal appointment of the team was made by the School Board chair in December 2010.
The team met twice a month, January through May, and presented a final report to the board in June 2011. Mid-process reports were made to the board in February and April 2011.