Juneau School District, business community to form partnership

Program aims to show school leaders what business wants from students

Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Juneau School District is trying to form partnerships with area businesses to increase available resources for education in Juneau, school officials said Friday.

The district wants to start an annual community celebration breakfast that would put school employees together with the business community that also includes non-profit organizations, Community Schools Supervisor Joyce Kitka announced at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The breakfast is the first for the district and addresses one of its strategies for 2004 to increase communication and partnerships in the community, she said.

"We just want the businesses to know the community is important to us," Kitka said. "This is a way to start the conversation."

The first breakfast is scheduled for 8 to 10 a.m. Aug. 24 in the Juneau-Douglas High School commons.

The district is asking 60 businesses to sponsor a table. That means businesses are to decorate a table and provide a gift of $10 or less. Tables will seat six district employees and at least two corporate representatives. Businesses are not required to donate money.

In fact, Kitka said, this is an opportunity for the district to get more from businesses than funding for different projects. It will give school leaders an opportunity to learn more about what business owners want from students in terms of mathematics, language and science skills.

The breakfast will serve as a launch pad for school officials to continue the dialogue with business leaders throughout the year.

The idea stems from a similar breakfast program started in Kentucky that has been successful, Kitka said.

"I think it's going to open up the communication avenues with them," Chamber Executive Director Chris Wyatt said. "It's an opportunity for businesses and organizations to meet workers in the school district and find out what the needs are."

The collaboration would allow school employees to understand business needs in the workforce. Conversely it would allow business owners some insight into how courses are taught. That could lead to some courses being taught for what is more conducive to the real business world.

The chamber plans to host a table, Wyatt said.

Mike Story, president of R&M Engineering, said breakfast program will expand upon the Junior Achievement Program - a business program in the schools.

Dialogue between the business community and school district is important, said Story, also chamber president.

"The biggest thing I see is it's an opportunity to encourage communication among the business community, the community in general and the educational community," he said.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.

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