What's with the huge idiotic banner along the chain-link fence at the Durango High School entrance? It looks like the school district is emulating the marketing tactics of a liquor store or car dealership. - J.R.
It kind of fits, considering DHS once had a liquor store in its parking lot and the facility has become the preferred venue for New Country Auto's tent-a-thon, sale-a-bration, authorized liquidation event or whatever the heck off-site vehicle transactions are called these days.
The 30-foot, vinyl banner touting "innovation" and "excellence" indeed is 9-R's attempt to communicate to a wider audience.
"It's all tied to the strategic plan," explained Marty Kay Hutton, with 9-R communications. "The banner is part of our mission statement and synopsizes everything we do."
But what does that mean, a puzzled Action Line asked.
"People asked for more awareness," she said. Therefore this banner will help parents, staff and taxpayers be cognizant of 9-R's new strategic plan.
Well, that certainly clears things up.
And apparently, the tactic worked, because Action Line then was drawn (kicking and screaming, mind you) into 9-R strategic plan awareness boosting.
If you haven't seen the strategic plan, all 90-plus pages are available on the district's Web site (www.durango
schools.org) via a 24 MB file that took more than three minutes to download despite a blazingly fast high-speed Internet connection.
Perhaps 9-R's commitment to innovation could include leaving out needless graphics on downloadable documents and using common Web file-compression programs.
And judging by the reaction of high school parents last week, the district's commitment to excellence also might include not having kids waste the first week of school attending classes they aren't supposed to be in and not being in classes they need to graduate because of a badly executed switch in scheduling software and failure to anticipate massive problems that always occur during technology cutovers.
Anyway, the strategic plan document is exhaustive (if not exhausting) with all sorts of directives, deadlines and responsibilities.
A lot of good people worked very hard on it, and the school district is quite proud of the plan.
The trouble is, the document is not the true strategic plan or mission statement.
Let's be honest. The district's real mission statement is "Durango 9-R, a Community Committed to Raising CSAP Test Scores."
If it's not CSAP-related, it's not important. Just ask any teacher.
But here's the weird thing. The official 9-R strategic plan doesn't have the word "test" anywhere. Not once.
You can check it out and use the search function on the PDF. Or you actually could read the thing.
Or you can just drive by and read a large red-and-white banner, which is what most people will do and call it good.
The plastic banner started out at Miller Middle School. After innovation and excellence were promulgated sufficiently there, it moved on to DHS.
9-R officials said the banner would be moved to other schools in the district.
That would be a shame. The choice DHS location is highly visible, and a 30-foot banner could be used for other communication purposes.
This weekend, for instance, 9-R could turn the banner over and put another message: "Durango 9-R, a Community Committed to Welcoming Bikers!"
Later, the same could be done for hunters.
The banner also could be used to increase public awareness of auto parts, bagels and the car wash across the street.
Yes, it's going to be a banner year for the school district.
E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you include a signed parental permission form and pay the mandatory optional extracurricular activity fee.