(JACKSON COUNTY) - A community coalition formed to identify and tackle education issues in Jackson County wants someone to take charge.
January Wetzel of the Tribune reports that Jackson County Education Coalition has started a search for an executive director, a position that will work closely with local educators, business and industry leaders, government officials and others to support and improve the education system across the county.
"We need someone to help pull this together," said Bud Walther, president and chief executive officer of Community Foundation of Jackson County.
"This is more than just what's going on in classrooms. It starts with pre-kindergarten and continues throughout life. From cradle to grave."
The coalition, which was incorporated in 2010 to manage Jackson County Learning Center and expand educational opportunities, serves as a supporting organization to the foundation to help carry out its interests in education from pre-kindergarten to post secondary opportunities. A new momentum and focus are taking shape since a $5 million gift from Cummins Inc. as part of its Seymour Engine Plant expansion.
" Evaluation teams have been set up to examine pre-kindergarten, kindergarten through 12th grade and post secondary or college education and their relationship to current and future workforce needs," Walther said.
"Once the board has an understanding of the current learning system they anticipate developing a set of high level goals and priorities, and projects will be defined and undertaken as funding is available," he added Walther said the executive director position as well as the coalition's initial funding is being paid for through a $5 million gift from Cummins as part of its Seymour Engine Plant expansion project.
"Cummins was encouraging us to hire a full-time person," Walher said. That person, he added, must have "senior level experience and a passion for Jackson County."
Other qualifications needed include a bachelor's degree and seven to 10 years experience in business, not- for- profit or education administration leadership.
The main goals and priorities of the executive director will be managing projects, fostering collaboration across the county's entire learning system, strengthening links in the community and managing grant and fundraising efforts.
"One task the director will have is trying to find a way to sustain the coalition's efforts so we can continue working to improve education into the future," Walther said.
Major projects include a continuing assessment of the community learning system, the EcO15 initiative of raising the education and employment of Jackson County residents and continued use and growth of the Jackson County Learning Center.
"The new executive director will manage the learning center work but more importantly will work closely with industry and the many parts of the county learning system of public and private schools and colleges," Walther said.
Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Devel¬opment Corp., said having the coalition in place and someone to lead it will help retain compa¬nies and recruit new firms to the area.
"This hiring of a director of the education coalition will continue to improve and expand education and the workforce, which companies tell us is important in their expansion decisions in today's market," he said.
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