Planning is a crucial 1st step

Mark Felvus wants students to enter Marion High School with a plan for what comes after high school. Whether someone wants to go to a four-year university, a two-year college, trade school, or enter the work force, if they know it when they enter high school and plan for it, they’ll have a much easier time accomplishing their goals.

With that in mind, Felvus is working with current eighth graders and their parents, encouraging them to start planning before enrolling as freshmen. Felvus understands that it is easier to qualify for admission to a Kansas Board of Regents school, complete the Kansas Scholars curriculum, or become eligible to compete in NCAA sports if a student starts working toward those goals early.

If only our elected officials, from the local level up to the federal level, spent so much time thinking about plans. Our federal government hasn’t had a budget since 2009. Instead, Congress and the president have passed a series of spending bills without a plan behind them.

Things are a bit better at the local level, thanks to annual budgets that the county, cities, and school districts are required to prepare. And unlike the federal government, when a local board decides to pursue a new project — like a meeting room or a building for storage — it has to know how it is going to pay for it, even if the answer is “raise taxes.”

Individual projects all sound great, but taken together it is too easy to miss opportunities by focusing on individual trees instead of looking at the forest. If the cities, schools, and county all had long-term plans and goals and communicated those with one another, more could be accomplished by cooperating on projects.

Imagine if, 10 years ago, the county, City of Marion, and USD 408 had sat down together to talk about expected facilities needs. Could they have cooperated to build a single facility that might have incorporated a new auditorium, meeting rooms, and community center? And if so, what could the resources saved through cooperation have accomplished? Could they have been used to preserve or restore some of the historic buildings downtown?

The governing bodies don’t communicate enough. I’ve spent a lot of time covering government meetings in the past 4½ years, and it is unusual to see a city official at a county commission meeting, or a county commissioner at a school board meeting, or a school official at a city meeting, or any other combination.

So what projects will come up in the decade ahead? If groups talk about their plans with each other, maybe they can accomplish more and greater projects.

— ADAM STEWART

 

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