Community Engagement

Posted on 01/21/2022

In Golf School District 67, our community and schools partner together to inspire learners for lifelong success.

Families want to be here, and stay here, because we are unique. Our school and community are synonymous. Our family atmosphere makes everyone feel welcome, with our diversity celebrated inside and outside our classrooms. Our small size allows our teachers and students to develop special relationships that last well beyond graduation. In fact, we’ve had teachers move back from other states to teach in their hometown, and our new Hynes Elementary School Principal returned home to Golf 67 for what he described as his “dream job.”

With more and more families looking to send their children to our highly rated schools, our enrollment has been growing at an unsustainable pace and it’s starting to show. We’ve run out of space, and even with using temporary trailers our average class size is the highest of all neighboring districts. Without adequate space, our students have limited access to the 21st Century programming that is readily available to students in other districts. As a result, our academic ratings are starting to slip.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added even more urgency to our dire need for more space. Despite our desire and best efforts to fully reopen last year, the lack of space in our classrooms and lunchroom to provide the social distance required by CDC mandate made it impossible to bring everyone in full time. Our teachers, students, and families really struggled. This year, our space limitations will again put us at a disadvantage. Without the ability to social distance, we have to implement more strict protocols which may result in some of our programming being limited.

We face other challenges as well. Our student-teacher ratio is by far the highest compared to our peer districts. Our instructional time is limited. Our resources are being spread thin trying to maintain two buildings, also leading to inefficiencies in staffing and limited choices in electives. And using mobile classrooms leads to significant safety and security concerns that must be addressed.

Even with these challenges, we have all the foundations for success. Our staff, school board, and community work tirelessly and creatively to make our district the “little engine that could.”

Nowhere is that more obvious than in our district’s finances. We’ve made incredible progress improving our finances by implementing a zero-based budgeting philosophy and better utilizing our resources. We now spend the least per pupil of any peer district in the region. We’ve reduced spending on administrative costs and staffing so we can invest our limited funds in classrooms. As a result of our fiscal responsibility, we’ve steadily increased our fund balance to a much healthier level while maintaining a tax rate that is 20% lower than our neighboring districts.

Solving our space issues will benefit everyone in our community. We will be able to provide our students 21st century learning environments that support high-quality teaching and active collaboration. We will become even more efficient and effective with the public’s tax dollars. And we will be able to provide safer and more secure schools for our children and teachers.

We will achieve these improvements together. This school year, our district and community will be collaborating closely to chart a course for the future of our schools. We will develop a new community-driven strategic plan that overcomes our space and staffing issues and provides our district with the tools needed to inspire learners for lifelong success.