About 150 parents, teachers and local officials filled the Litchfield Middle School cafeteria for a presentation on the school district's goals and visions by Superintendent Debbie Poffinbarger.
The presentation was part of the regular monthly meeting, and all board members were in attendance.
"It's awesome you came out tonight to support our schools," Poffinbarger told the crowd.
Before starting the presentation, she shared a little bit of her family history and her passion for education.
"I have this passion, and sometimes I get in trouble for it," she said. "My job is my hobby, and sometimes I become too passionate about it. My hope every morning when I get up is that I get to help somebody."
She presented a four-minute audio clip from Denzel Washington talking about rising up from failure, and falling forward to succeed. Poffinbarger said she hopes to embed that message in the district's staff and students.
"Kids tend to be coddled," she said. "But they have to fail to get better. I have failed many times in my life. I choose faith not fair, and the mindset that I can do it. That's my message here tonight."
She encouraged the crowd to be partners in the district's endeavor to educate students in the 13 years they are there. The board will begin a book study with district teachers and staff called "The Energy Bus" by Jon Gordon, and Poffinbarger invited the community to join them.
In a ten-minute video presentation, including student testimonials, Poffinbarger outlined some of the district's goals, including becoming a connecting community, ensuring student success, improving facilities and infrastructure, being fiscally responsible and providing effective teachers and administrators to students.
"It's been a pleasure to move to Litchfield," Poffinbarger said.
"It's a phenomenal community. We have work to do in our schools, but we have phenomenal teachers and awesome custodians, secretaries and cafeteria workers. There are some phenomenal things going on in the Litchfield School District."
Poffinbarger asked the community to fill out a survey on things they think the district is doing well and things that could use some improvement. She asked local residents to give the district some time, adding she's committed to stay in Litchfield. The board approved a five-year contract for her earlier this year.
"My dream is to see every kid here as an individual learner," she said. "We have to teach kids to care for themselves and to be problem solvers. These kids will learn to care, love and be compassionate to others."
She encouraged community residents to invite others to meet her or step inside the buildings to see the things going on in the district.
"Litchfield is a good place to live, and I'm glad I get to live here," she said.
Prior to the presentation, the board heard two updates under the Citizens Agenda. Litchfield High School Student Council President Breanna Seely told the board the school had seven wrestlers qualify for the state tournament over the weekend. She also told them it was National FFA Week, and members were celebrating with a canned food drive for the local food pantry.
In other news, Seely said the annual National Honor Society induction would be Thursday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, and that the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is encouraging students to thank a teacher or staff member. The cast for this year's production of Once Upon a Mattress has been set, and the performances will be held the last week of April. In a final news item, she told the board of a new percussion ensemble.
After Seely's report, music teachers Ellis Henley and Cassie Lord-Remmert-McKorkle presented a group of middle school students in a new guitar class, who performed two songs for the board. Henley gave special thanks to the Baker Trust for providing the guitars, and said it was a wonderful opportunity for the students.
During the consent agenda, the board approved the monthly list of volunteers who have completed their paperwork and approved three high school students for early graduation. All three students are planning to attend college upon early graduation.
Poffinbarger reported $156,172 in bills during the month of February, including $88,000 in the education fund, from which all day-to-day operating expenses are paid. She added the district currently has a balance of $4.5 million, and that the district had received $150,000 in early childhood and $44,880 in special education categorical grants from the state.
In new business, the board unanimously approved $262 in mileage reimbursement to Jeff Seabaugh for attending the school board conference in Chicago last November. Board members do take on personal expenses to attend the conference, but mileage is reimbursed by the district.
Board members also unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Regional Office of Education for the Safe Schools program.
In addition to the strategic vision presentation, Poffinbarger presented the monthly enrollment report, noting 1,298 students in the district, as well as the administrators' reports.
She called on two board members to give committee reports. Meg Wertin said the newly formed Building and Grounds Committee had begun touring district school buildings, and thus far had toured all the elementary schools. Wertin said the buildings have no room for pupils or storage. The committee, which was formed to lead the discussion on use of the 1 percent sales tax for capitol improvement projects, plans to tour the middle school and high school next. Poffinbarger said the district has already received $332,000 in the county-wide 1 percent sales tax.
New board member Julie Abel reported on the Finance Committee meeting, where they reviewed the district's projected revenues and expenses through June. They also looked at the monthly inflows and outflows, and the committee was formed to make sure the district operates within its budget.
The next meeting of the Litchfield School Board will be held on Thursday, March 15, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Radius Room at Litchfield High School.