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A Message From Superintendent Hilling: Focus on the Future

The start of each new year symbolizes the many things that each of us wish to change in our own lives for the better. Even though our school year is approaching its’ halfway point, we too are intent on changing things for the better.

Since August, we have had many challenges, obstacles and hurdles to overcome. We have many more of them to face in the weeks and months ahead. However, we too are determined to change things for the better, for all the important stakeholders in our district, most importantly our students and our families that make up the district.

Starting on January 18, 2017, the district will begin a new initiative I am calling “Focus on the Future”. The goal for Focus on the Future will be to provide the Parma City School District with clear and consistent planning for both the short term and the long term.

To help introduce Focus on the Future to each of you, I’ve collected some of the most Frequently Asked Questions for you to help you better understand this new project:

How will Focus on the Future be organized?
Focus on the Future will be comprised of seven committees, or Action Teams, which will review all areas of the school district. These Action Teams are:

Athletics & Extra Curricular Activities
Community Engagement
Curriculum & Instruction
Facilities Usage & District Operations
Restoring Trust in the District

Who are the members of the Action Teams?
Our building principals were tasked with providing me with a list of interested parents, students, certified and classified staff members who would be willing to serve on an Action Team. Members of our community have also reached out to me, including senior citizens, business leaders, politicians and more. Teams were chosen with as much equal representation as possible from our very important stakeholder groups. About half of all those who applied to be on an Action Team were selected to serve.

How will Focus on the Future address our short-term and long-term plans?
Short-term plans recommended by the Action Teams will be actionable items that the district can immediately undertake in order to create a better school district for everyone. These recommendations must be effective and must cost the district little, if no dollars. These short-term recommendations will be presented to the Board of Education at the February 21, 2017 regular meeting. To address our long-term planning, I am asking the Action Teams to continue to meet regularly over the next five years. Their recommendations will provide consistency and clarity, even though things like technology may change and shift in the years ahead. Action Teams will continue to make their reports directly to the Board of Education during the fall and spring of each school year.

Can I attend a Focus on the Future Action Team meeting even if I’m not on an Action Team?
Yes. We intend for Focus on the Future to be a fully transparent process from beginning to end. All meetings will be open to the public and we invite you to attend as an “observer”. As an observer, we ask that you let the important work of the team proceed. However, we will provide you an opportunity to submit written questions to Action Team chairs at the conclusion of each meeting. Answers to appropriate questions will be posted on our website in no less than 48 hours. Additionally, since all of the short-term planning meetings will be happening in the same building at the same time, you have the flexibility to attend any of the seven Action Teams meetings at your disposal.

What if I’m not available to attend any Action Team meeting as an observer but I still want to know what is going on?
Minutes from all Action Team meetings will be posted on our website, along with any submitted documents and questions from Action Team meetings. This information will be posted no later than 48 hours after the conclusion of each meeting. Any future Action Team meetings will be posted on the website calendar as well, with at least two weeks prior notice.

Why is Focus on the Future different from previous strategic plans the district has undertaken?
Many of the previous strategic plans recommendations were hard work provided by stakeholders in the district. We mean to use these recommendations as a starting point for Focus on the Future. We want to know where these recommendations are at, if they were followed through, and if we need to adjust them to the Parma City School District of today. The five year commitment I am asking for from Action Team members will ensure that any recommendations made will be followed through.

When does Focus on the Future begin?
The first meeting is on January 18, 2016 in the Parma Senior High cafeteria. Short term meetings will continue every Wednesday through February 8, 2017.

Where can I find out more information?
All information about Focus on the Future will be on our website at If you do not have regular internet access or have any questions, contact my office at 440-885-8337.