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Task force builds framework to address education issues.

The Cities' Roles in Education Task Force met last week in Overland Park, Kan. and continued its focus on planning and implementing a national campaign, "Education; Everybody's Business." Task Force Chairman and Overland Park Council Member Tim Ownes arranged the meeting and led it through its paces.

Having recognized that 'education' and 'schools' are not synonymous, the Task Force developed the concept for a basic primer and campaign on why and how cities and towns can be involved in their communities' education activities.

The Task Force's dynamic framework puts city government, the schools, and the business community at each point of a triangle, from which each can communicate and interact with the other two. In addition, each member of the triangle has an individual sphere of influence concerning education. Regularly, two or more of these spheres of influence overlap providing opportunities for collaboration.

In order to have a basic set of materials that will inform and encourage local officials, the Task Force is recommending a primer that will discuss each of the following:

[Section] an introduction that argues the case for creating and continuing local government involvement in education;

[Section] a sample resolution for individual local action;

[Section] an emphasis on fostering open dialogue and networking;

[Section] how to share resources (money, people, and facilities);

[Section] financing (including joint purchasing and pooled risk management);

[Section] inclusion of all the stakeholders (workplace, schools, community at large);

[Secton] strategic planning;

[Section] communication, publicity, and general advocacy;

[Section] directory of further resources; and

[Section] a tear out page to facilitate input from readers.

The Task Force is sensitive to the fact that information about education changes rapidly. Therefore, the long range goal is to use technologies that can quickly respond to change. Audio cassettes, diskettes that can be exchanged, and loose leaf publications wee all mentioned as possible ways to facilitate sending updated information.

Three school superintendents from the Overland Park area discussed their perspectives about municipal government involvement in education. The superintendent of the Olathe School District noted eight areas in which schools and municipalities could work more closely: communication about what each other is doing; long range planning; shared facilities (buildings, parks); joint purchasing and warehousing; common community concerns, such as crime; respect for and use of the varying contributions each has to offer; a shared interest in being the most effective governing entity possible; and coordination.

Don Wilson, the Shawnee Mission superintendent, summed up why schools and municipalities need to work together.

The Task Force also provided significant input into the planning for the upcoming meeting of NLC leadership with Lamar Alexander, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and into the planning for the 1992 Congress of Cities.

The meeting also included ample time to learn about specific programs in various communities across the country. These included the Safe School Zones effort in Dayton, Ohio; the Child Guidance Program in Carson City, Calif.; ongoing children's initiatives in Thornton, Colo.; "Summer in the City" in Davenport, Iowa; the BOOST program for student trainess in Brighton, Colo.; and the Partners for Excellence Business and Education Directory in Overland Park.

The meeting concluded with a social event at the national headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, where Sprint Corporation gave an energizing demonstration about how they are involved in local education initiatives.

The meeting was attended by Council Member Tim Owens, Overland Park, Kan.; Vice-Mayor Katie Nack, Pasadena, Calif.; Council Memner Linda Horowitz, Vancouver, Wash.; Council Member Lock Beachum, Youngstown, Ohio; Alderman Neil Harrison, Davenport, Iowa; Council Member Susan Kleve, Brighton, Colo.; Council Member Elliott Martinez, Sanger, Calif.; Mayor Pro-Tem Juanita McDonald, Carson City, Calif.; Council Member Carol Norberg, Thornton, Colo.; Mayor Lawrence Wilder, Reedley, Calif.; Charles Meadows, representing Mayor Richard Clay Dixon, Dayton, Ohio; and John Edwards, representing Mayor Mary Anne McCollum, Columbia, Mo.
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Author:Kyle, John E.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 15, 1992
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