Big ideas on the table for school districtFrom helping students identify their talents to year-round school, Farmington School Board members and superintendent Jay Haugen had some big ideas on their minds at a Friday night board retreat.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
From helping students identify their talents to year-round school, Farmington School Board members and superintendent Jay Haugen had some big ideas on their minds at a Friday night board retreat.
Haugen organized the meeting as a way to familiarize board members with his thoughts on education, where it’s going and what it can become in Farmington. He wanted to gauge board members’ reactions to some of those ideas, a process that will continue with individual meetings between Haugen and board members.
“One of my roles is to get to know the board so well I can move confidently ahead with things,” Haugen said.
The ideas that came up Friday won’t all be implemented immediately, and some might never come up again. But one that will likely return in some form is the idea of identifying a student’s spark – the things students are good at and that they’re passionate about. Identifying and supporting that spark, Haugen said, can keep students engaged in school and help them be successful in a number of areas.
Haugen implemented a spark program in his former district, and said he plans to look into whether something similar makes sense in Farmington.
“We have a lot of kids in the middle who just don’t get turned on to things,” Haugen said.” I just know we can do a whole lot better as a school system.”
Haugen has talked frequently about making Farmington one of the best school districts in Minnesota, but he said Friday it will be difficult to accomplish that with small steps. Eventually, he said, there will have to be some big leaps.
Friday’s discussion also raised the possibility of reorganizing schools to make better use of available space and teaming up with other school district to seek waivers from the state on some regulations. Loosening regulations could free the district to be more creative with some of its programs, Haugen said.
Board chair Tera Lee said the district will have to find creative ways to get things done as enrollments increase and resources shrink.
Lee said she went into Friday’s discussion looking for a better understanding of Haugen’s theories on education and came out happy with what she heard from him and what she heard from her fellow board members.
“I’m glad that the school board had a good conversation and we all chimed in, but there were a couple points where I wish we would have been quiet so we could have heard from (Haugen) more,” Lee said. “It was nice to hear that there’s definitely a consensus to the idea that some change is needed. Working out that change is going to be a process, but we all agree we can’t keep going the way we’re going.”
Haugen expects to hold community meetings in the next couple of months to talk about some of the same topics that came up last week. The district has to set a budget in November, and Haugen wants to have an idea for some preliminary changes before that.