Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials expressed excitement during Wednesday's board of education meeting about the start of a new, in-depth community engagement process called Engage200.
Last month, board members approved a $49,500 contract with St. Louis-based public relations firm Unicom Arc to facilitate a series of public workshops to help set the district's direction for the next five to seven years.
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The district announced earlier this week the initiative is being called Engage200 and former Wheaton City Council member Liz Corry and District 200 parent Scott Brown have been selected to serve as co-chairs of the Engage200 facilitating team.
On Wednesday, Corry thanked the board of education for the opportunity and stressed the importance of getting every community member involved in the Engage200 process, including those who no longer have children attending a school in the district.
Corry said the facilitating team met for the first time last Monday, where they talked about the board's expectations for the team, how the engagement process will work and preliminary preparations for the first community engagement session.
"I'm really impressed with the caliber and the camaraderie that the facilitating team has expressed," she said, adding that there are team members representing each of the municipalities the district serves.
Two board of education members -- Jim Vroman and Brad Paulsen -- have been selected to work directly with the facilitating team as board of education liaisons.
"We may not have every single interest group represented on the facilitating team, but we have access to every single interest group, I think," Vroman said.
Paulsen said he was unable to attend the team's first meeting, but he is looking forward to getting to know the team, which will hold two more meetings for themselves before hosting the first of six community engagement sessions next month.
"I'm excited that we're moving along as fast as we are," Paulsen said. "I know it's a tight time frame, and thank you to everybody who volunteered from the community."
There are 10 community members on the facilitating team, including one Warrenville resident, one Carol Stream resident, two Winfield residents and six Wheaton residents.
In addition, four members of the team are District 200 employees, including Superintendent Brian Harris, Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations Bill Farley, Wiesbrook Elementary Principal Brian Turyna and Director of Public Relations Erica Loiacono.
Two other local leaders in education also will be a part of the team, including Tom Grace, vice president of the Wheaton Warrenville Education Association, and Penny Coyle, co-president of the Classified Education Association.
The first community engagement session will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Monroe Middle School, 1855 Manchester Road in Wheaton. All District 200 taxpayers are encouraged to attend.
During the first session, Harris will do a presentation on the state of the school district. Community members in attendance will then break into small groups to discuss and write down key issues and opportunities for the district.
"We're hoping we'll have several hundred people in the room," Corry said.
After the session, the Engage200 facilitating team will take a look at the suggestions and use them to lay out what the topics will be at the next five community meetings. The meetings will likely take place once a month until the summer, when a final report will be presented to the board.
For information on Engage200, visit cusd200.org. Community members with questions can call (630) 682-2469 or email email@example.com. The district also has a Facebook and Twitter account dedicated to Engage200 that will provide updates on the process.
Engage200: First session with community scheduled for Jan. 15