OnCue looking for ways to help schools

Residents interested in Missoula County public schools are invited to the next meeting of OnCue, a grass-roots organization whose members say they want to improve education through community-involved problem solving.

OnCue, which stands for One Community United for Education, will hold a public meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Hellgate High School cafeteria.

Organizers said Tuesday's discussion will focus on ways to establish a public education fund or foundation. People are encouraged to air any ideas that could bolster Missoula public school curriculum, said Steve McArthur, a volunteer facilitator for OnCue.

A quorum of Missoula school board members may be present at the meeting and issues of the school board could be discussed.

"We want to help crystallize some positive actions to create better alternatives for schools," McArthur said. "We want to help create a premiere school system. Money is not necessarily the solution, but, instead, thinking in creative ways."

Items to jump-start discussion will be how to tap into community talent, and where to explore funding from outside resources, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helps support science and engineering programs at small schools.

"We have top-notch people in our own community and we would like to explore how they could help with school needs," McArthur said. "With all these writers in Missoula, why don't we have a really premiere writing lab?"

Organizers hope that from Tuesday's meeting a task force from the community will be formed. Ideally, the group will meet throughout the summer to develop ways to support Missoula's schools, and offer the suggestions to the public and the school board in the fall.

"We are not an issue group, we are a process group," McArthur said, adding that OnCue is intended to help Missoula's school board, not compete with it. "OnCue is a group of citizens working to establish a more inclusive, communitywide approach to making decisions about Missoula's public schools."

For more information about the meeting or about OnCue, call McArthur at 251-5965, or Dan Bucks at 728-2461 or Catherine C. Goddman at 549-5404.

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