CERES -- The school board and City Council have joined together in a unique strategic plan to improve community life.
School and city representatives say the effort should pay dividends for everyone involved.
Jay Simmonds, director of educational options for the Ceres school district, said he doubted there was anything like it in the region. He said that having the board and council write down measurable goals puts some teeth in the plan. Both governing boards adopted the two-page accord last month.
Superintendent Walt Hanline agreed and went one step further on the accountability inherent in the plan.
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"If we (the staff) don't do what they want, then they should replace us. It's the job of the board or council to tell us what they want. It is our job to make sure it happens."
Hanline added, "So many plans have goals but no product. We are going to have reports and that establishes a baseline to improve upon."
As examples, he cited growth and gangs. He said the commu- nity and schools would talk about making growth pay for itself, but initially, "we'll have to define what that means."
He added there will be a master plan about where parks, trails and schools will be.
He said there would be a definition for gangs and gang activity. "If gang activity is 7,000 graffiti signs, next year we'd have to improve, say just 6,000 graffiti signs."
Ceres City Manager Brad Kil- ger agreed that the plan was "pretty specific about deliverable products." He said that was possible because both the city and schools already have strategic plans. It is then just a matter of melding both and adding detailed goals.
Kilger said both the city and schools are saving some money because they share facilities for youth sports and other programs.
Down the road, Kilger said, he could see an opportunity for joint maintenance and purchases.
Mayor Anthony Cannella said seeing measurable progress is the only way to go. "The way I look at it, if we're going to invest time, we want it to be fruitful."
This endeavor is all about how we can work together and help each other, Cannella said. "We all serve the same constituency."
At the very least, Cannella said, the city and school have a better relationship.
"We've laid out a plan to achieve things," he said. "One of our highest priorities is dealing with gangs."
He said the schools could start anti-gang intervention as early as the second grade, and that fighting gangs and crime could also boost achievement in the schools and reduce law enforcement costs.
Simmonds also said he saw another quick economic benefit because the schools have already changed curriculum to reflect local manufacturers' needs for a more skilled work force. This kind of approach could even benefit the entire county, especially when it comes to attracting new industry, he said.
Staff writer Roger W. Hoskins may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2311.