Focus On The Future Engages Stakeholders With District

Superintendent Carl Hilling

Last May was a game changer for the Parma City School District. It was in May that we discovered we would have a $2,000,000 budget shortfall in the 2015-2016 school year and then a $7,000,000 shortfall this school year.

Addressing a deficit of that size meant making numerous reductions that affected our students. It also meant we needed to start thinking differently. Our entire administrative staff came together as a team and had a voice in the reductions and how it would impact their building or department. We looked at ourselves more critically, focusing on where we had come from and where we wanted to be.

From this experience came Focus on the Future. Seven Focus on the Future Action Teams were created, whose members represented a cross-section of the district’s stakeholders including administrators, classified and certified staff members, students, parents, elected officials and community members.

The Action Teams held their first meetings on January 18, 2017, at Parma Senior High School. Many of the teams began their discussions learning about each other. They also discussed what short-term recommendations were needed to address the critical issues facing our district. These short-term recommendations were meant to be improvements the district could implement immediately at little or no cost.

On February 21, 2017, the Action Teams reported to the Board of Education on their short-term recommendations. The Board then scheduled three special meetings in March to ask critical questions of the Teams and considered the short-term recommendations presented. I reviewed the short-term recommendations by the Action Teams and presented my thoughts and recommendations to the Board of Education on March 20, 2017.

On March 24, 2017, the Board of Education voted to accept many of the short-term recommendations provided by the Action Teams. The full list of accepted short-term recommendations is available on our website at

Focus on the Future provides the opportunity for the administration to rethink and redefine how we operate, based on the desires of the community stakeholders. This is a real attempt to share the future of the district with the community and to give you a voice in this effort. 

As you can imagine, this was a massive undertaking and we intended to make this process a team effort. Over 200 people volunteered to serve on an Action Team, and over 110 were chosen. In most cases, the stakeholders who volunteered were able to work on the team they were most interested in.

From the very beginning, the entire Focus on the Future initiative was conducted in complete transparency. Community members were invited to observe any and all of the Teams’ meetings and submit their questions. Minutes of all the Action Team meetings were posted on our website within 48 hours, along with videos from all relevant Board of Education meetings for public review.

However, Focus on the Future does not stop with these short-term recommendations. Many Teams have already begun developing long-term recommendations that will help us make a plan for a new and dynamic school district. The Action Teams will continue to report to the Board of Education on a regular basis.

We also understand that some of our volunteer stakeholders will change over time and new people will replace them. We believe this dynamic will allow for new ideas. However, as people come and go, the Focus on the Future process will remain intact. If an opening on an Action Team becomes available and you would like to be considered, please visit and submit your information. We will make every effort to include you as a member.

I hope as you read through the short-term recommendations and visit our website, you will be impressed with the work already completed. I know I am.

We have heard the concerns from the community and we know they want solutions and plans that will make everyone proud. We will continue to work together as a team, unified with our three communities, to bring positive, comprehensive, and relevant change that will benefit our children today and tomorrow. We are a stronger Parma City School District.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 10:18 PM, 04.02.2017