Some feedback on the Loveland Schools Community
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (April 19, 2022) – The Loveland City School District (LCSD) began “Strategic Vision” planning for the future with two community sessions in February. Two more “Design Team” sessions have taken place since then – the most recent on Thursday, April 14.
It’s all part of a process to plan for the future success of the Loveland School community. The key word in this process is “Community” following the most recent defeat of school levies at the polls nearly three years ago. Since then, the Board of Education has welcomed three new board members (Kevin Dougherty, Dr. Eric Schwetschenau, and Jonathan Eilert) as well as hired new LCSD Superintendent Mike Broadwater. School administrators have taken to heart the message of community engagement with a community planning commission and efforts to gain community input in creating this strategic vision for the future of Loveland Schools.
“One way or another the board needs to make a decision based on what is it the community wants,” said Broadwater.
He compares it to doing your home budget. You don’t plan your home budget without knowing what it is you’re budgeting for. Upon his arrival at the start of the current school year, LCSD did not have a strategic vision plan.
“We had the ‘Portrait of a Tiger’, but that’s’ not a strategic vision,” Broadwater explained. “That’s like aspirational things you want for the kids. The strategic vision for me; I would like action steps we can actually check off and say we did it for the kids.”
When Broadwater accepted the position of Superintendent for Loveland Schools, he planned to take the lead on the strategic vision. As he came to know the community, his vision plan changed.
“As I got to know the community a little bit more, and know where the community was,” he said, “You know what, I just need to be able to sit back and listen.”
From there, the process of engaging the community took shape from reaching out with email messages, the school newsletter, a community survey, to yard signs and the Superintendent himself getting out inviting the community to participate in the planning process. Everyone was, welcome. A schedule for the process took shape too. You can still find it on the white board in Mike Broadwater’s office.
Here’s a look at the planning schedule:
- Feb 09 – Community Session #1 (Portrait of a Tiger)
- Feb 23 – Community Session #2 (General Feedback)
- March 10 – Design Team #1
- April 14 – Design Team # 2
- April 19 – Writing Team #1
- April 27 – Writing Team #2
- May 11/12 – Writing Team
- May 16 – Community Session #3
- May 18 – Design Team #3
- June 1 – Writing Team
- June 8 – Gallery Walk
- June 16 – Board Work Session (Moved from July 12)
To be clear, nobody is saying anything about the financial aspects, or the possibility of a School Levy appearing on any upcoming ballot. That said, here are important dates to remember as Loveland School Community goes through this planning process:
- July 29 – By Statute, this is the deadline to file any operating levy.
- August 10 – Deadline to file any ballot item with the Board of Elections.
Taking a look at what has already happened, including the two community sessions up through the completion of the first Design Team session which took place March 10. Broadwater says the first community session was attended by about 50-60 people who heard about the upcoming Strategic Planning and the dates. The second community session was focused on getting the community feedback following the community survey. The input/feedback from community session #2 is available for review on the Loveland Schools Website. The design team came next.
“I thought it went really well,” Broadwater said. “The board was very concerned about making sure we get community input. We took every single person that volunteered to be on this.”
Among those volunteers participating in the process as part of the Design Team are Steve and Theresa Kovacs. Steve says so far the Design Team portion of the Strategic Vision planning has been a familiar process. It has been an experience not unlike the planning process used by businesses and major corporations throughout the business community.
“When you get to it, their intent is quite admirable; to have a clear vision and a plan that has clear tactics,” said Steve. “It is what Mike wants for the next five year period to steer the ship of the school system. It is good. Corporations do that.”
Broadwater made it clear there are focus points. Number one, and it is always his #1, is the students. Superintendent Mike Broadwater has never wavered from his position as an educator first, with a focus on educating the students first. Even with Broadwater and his team of administrators keeping the Design Team sessions focused, Steve Kovacs still notes how the process can be “messy” just because you don’t know where it is going until you get there. He and Theresa were looking forward to the feedback they would receive during the second Design Team session held last Thursday, April 14.
“I think one of the good things was talking about the different topics,” said Theresa, referring to going through the SWOT process of identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. “I liked that they made us think about what would be potential obstacles. I think a lot of times you throw out ideas because it’s wonderful – you get an opportunity to just pie in the sky everything – everything is fair game. But then you have to ask: what is a potential problem in reaching this?”
There is a lot more to come as noted by the schedule dates listed here in this story. For now, Mike Broadwater is happy with the process, keeping focused on education for the kids moving forward into the future with Loveland Schools.
“Number one is going to be student success,” Broadwater said. “Then culture. To me it is a tough word to define, but: are we moving in a good direction? Is it a positive environment for kids? Are parents, community, all stakeholders working together for the betterment of the kids?”
Broadwater added: “I think it’s been a great first step bringing people together to focus on kids and figure out where we want to go with this school district.”
There is much more to come from Steve and Theresa Kovacs as well as Superintendent Mike Broadwater as we continue the series in PART II: A look at the Strategic Vision planning for LCSD
You can also find more about Loveland Schools at:www.lovelandschools.org