Mehlville School District seeks Facilitating Team volunteers for engagement program

The Mehlville School District is seeking residents to serve on a Facilitating Team for its upcoming public-engagement program.

Roughly six to 10 district volunteers are being sought to serve on the Facilitating Team with the goal of having a microcosm of the community represented on the panel, according to Dan Fowler and Jim Schibig, who are serving as co-chairmen of the public-engagement program.

Board of Education members voted unanimously last month to name Fowler and Schibig co-chairmen of the public-engagement process. Fowler served three terms on the school board before stepping down in 1998, and Schibig was principal of Beasley Elementary School for 15 years before retiring in 2001.

The 12- to 15-member Facilitating Team will schedule, plan, coordinate and facilitate all meetings that will be conducted during the public-engagement program.

Six to 10 community facilitators will join Fowler and Schibig, educational planning advisers and representatives of the district on the Facilitating Team.

Fowler and Schibig said last week that they hope residents take advantage of this opportunity to serve on the Facilitating Team.

“Well, I think it’s extremely important to get the community involved in the process and as many people as we can get, to quote Dan, ‘under the tent,’ I think that the more successful we will be in hearing everybody’s voices,” Schibig said.

Fowler said, “We need to have a microcosm of the community helping direct this process, and we don’t want to exclude anybody. So the important thing is to open it up to the community … What we’re looking for is people that have got leadership skills. I’d even like to find a critic or two of the Mehlville School District to serve on this as well as possibly a parochial parent and a senior citizen or two.

“We obviously have to have the school district involved, some board members as liaisons. It’s extremely important that we keep the board up to date and keep them involved in the process because the Board of Education will ultimately approve or disapprove of what we’re doing,” he added.

Fowler said he would like to see one or two critics serve on the Facilitating Team.

“We welcome critics of the school district,” he said. “In fact, I think in our judgment that’s one of the most critical aspects of this engagement process is to hear from the critics. There are going to be two opportunities for critics to voice their concerns or issues that they have with the Mehlville School District or their perceptions.

“That’s going to be with this Facilitating Team, which we really would like to pick one or two critics, and second of all, the actual public-engagement process. We will actively seek them out to get them to these meetings.”

In paring down the applications submitted by those who wish to serve on the Facilitating Team, Fowler and Schibig said the goal is to provide a voice for all segments of the community.

“I think that we’re going to look for again a microcosm of the community … I don’t want to have all parents or all school-district people involved. I just think it’s important, No. 1, to find people who have different points of view. So we’ll be looking for that,” Fowler said. “We’ll be looking for leadership skills, and third, very important, people that play well with others. We welcome opposing ideas, but we want people that can work with us. We are advocates of public education and there should be no question that we’re coming from that point of view.”

Schibig said, “And I think it’s very important, as Dan said, that we have the entire community — all facets of the community — senior citizens, parochial, private, whatever, to get their voices in this whole process.”

Fowler said, “We’re going to have to make some difficult choices … Not everybody in the school district who wants to be on this committee is going to be able to be on it …”

Though everyone who applies won’t be able to serve on the Facilitating Team, the co-chairmen noted that the public-engagement process will be open to the entire community.

The deadline to submit an application to serve on the Facilitating Team is Tuesday, Feb. 13. Volunteers are asked to send their contact information along with two or three paragraphs outlining biographical information and why they are interested in serving on the team to Sharon Peiffer, executive assistant to the superintendent of schools, Mehlville School District, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road, St. Louis, Mo. 63125.

Peiffer also can be reached by e-mail at

“The Board of Education unanimously selected Jim Schibig and Dan Fowler to lead this process,” interim Superintendent Jerry Chambers stated in a district news release. “We want every member of our community to have an opportunity to participate in our engagement program. We are excited to get started on this most important endeavor for our schools.”