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Viewpoint: Change will be the topic of discussion in District 834

I'm guessing many of you, like me, were riveted by the inauguration activities of the past week. We have all witnessed a major and historical change in the direction of our country and in our own lives. We recognize the future holds great uncertainty, yet we also recognize that with that uncertainty comes freedom to hope, dream, and question the status quo. Often it is during times of uncertainty that the greatest innovation and progress is made.

Like our nation, our Stillwater Area Public Schools also face an uncertain future. The world is changing, and so are the needs of our students, our residents and our communities.

In the coming weeks and months, you'll be hearing discussions about change around the school board table, in our schools, and throughout the community.

We want you to become actively engaged in sharing your thoughts, ideas and questions. We are asking for and welcome your feedback.

I recognize that everyone feels a bit differently about change. Some of us question the need to change what has traditionally been an excellent educational system. Others are intrigued by new possibilities for our students and our schools. Yet, I don't believe there are many among us who can question the impact the digital age is having on our students and on our world.

The digital age has changed the way students learn, interact, and communicate, and will continue to impact the way we work in the future. I believe that to best serve the needs of our students while preparing them for an unpredictable future, we must be willing to change the way we teach and define the structure of our educational program.

This fall, district leaders set the stage for change with the adoption of our strategic plan.

As we seek out the strategies that will most effectively help us achieve our goals, we will ask hard questions, engage in demanding discussions and make tough decisions. All of our conversations will focus on offering students personal, individualized instruction that prepares them for success beyond high school.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing information with our shareholders that examines technology use across our district and offers several scenarios for the future. These scenarios could range from discontinuing the current initiatives in place at the junior highs to increasing individual access to technology to all of our secondary students, with any number of options in between.

From this information, we will be able to ask more informed questions and engage in more constructive dialogue about the future of our schools.

Other conversations may take place this spring regarding our academic programs and schedules, utilization of our existing facilities, and demographic changes looming on the horizon.

These are huge issues that impact not just our students and staff, but our entire community. It is not a process to be taken lightly. We'll be gathering information, researching best practices, and engaging all of our shareholders in these conversations to ensure everyone has a voice in any decision.

Whether we like it our not, change is upon us, and we must be prepared to discuss these very important issues facing our schools, our families, and our communities.

I will do my best throughout the coming months to keep you informed and engage you in the discussions as much as possible. As always, I invite you to contact me at or (651) 351-8301 with any questions or concerns.

Ryskoski is School District 834 superintendent and can be reached at