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NCSS hosts community engagement session
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COVINGTON, Ga. – The Newton County School System held a community engagement session Monday evening at the Newton College and Career Academy.

Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said the purpose of the session was to obtain meaningful input from the community as the system begins its strategic planning process.

Dr. Stan DeJarnett, director of the Georgia Vision Project and Facilitator and director for strategic improvement planning for the Georgia School Board Association said community input is vital to strategic planning.

“We believe that you have to have a plan and you have to work the plan to be successful,” he said. “We also believe that community input is key to a successful strategic plan because everybody, regardless of where you go to work every day, what part the community you live in, the economic future of this county is directly tied to the success of the school district.”

DeJarnett said 90 percent of school-age children in Georgia attend a public school.

“That means that 90 percent of this state’s future workforce are sitting in our classrooms right now. That’s a big responsibility on us, to make sure that they are prepared.”

He compared working without a strategic plan to driving at Spaghetti Junction north of Atlanta during rush hour without knowing where you’re going.

“Everybody pulling in different directions, you’re getting off at the wrong exit, you may even be traveling the wrong way down the interstate,” he said. “What we want is to align everyone in the district and everyone in the community’s efforts so that we’re all traveling in the same direction and hopefully, at the same speed.

“This is about community building.”

After opening remarks, participants at the 90-minute session broke up into groups and weighed in on what each thought the system’s greatest strengths, challenges and areas that need improvement are. Each group had a facilitator to record each person’s input. Participants included community members, educators and local government officials.

After participants provided their opinions on a series of questions, each groups’ answers were posted around the commons area of the school and people had an opportunity to evaluate and weigh in on those answers.

If you are interested in participating in the Strategic Planning Process but were unable to attend the session, you can still provide input by going to the school system website at and taking the survey. According to the site, the survey will be available until Feb. 28 at 11:45 p.m.

Fuhrey said in an email “It is critical to obtain meaningful input from the citizens of our community before the plan is developed. We need your help to ensure success of this community engagement initiative and our strategic planning process.

“It is important to have as many voices at the table as possible so that our strategic plan will represent all stakeholder groups of the district”