The Columbus Education Commission will kick off the first of six public meetings Friday, Jan. 11 at Columbus State Community College.
The 25-person commission of education, community and business leaders was appointed in December by Mayor Michael Coleman and City Council President Andrew Ginther.
The group's first meeting, to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Center for Workforce Development, 315 Cleveland Ave., will focus on two areas: How state and federal education policy affect local schools; and the importance of early childhood education.
No registration is necessary. The event is free and open to the public. Those who can't attend can watch the session online at reimaginecolumbuseducation.org.
"Education affects the future of the entire community, so we definitely want to hear from the people who live and work here," said Rob Evans, spokesman for the commission.
"That's why we have created a variety of ways for people to get involved with the commission."
Civic, education and business leaders, both locally and nationally, will speak about a variety of topics throughout the series.
The overall objective is to define job-market skills and higher education expectations in the 21st century, Evans said.
"We're all trying to figure out what the school systems are going to need to deliver," he said.
The public will not have time to comment at each of the meetings, but can offer input on the commission's website and at a series of community forums that will follow the formal meetings, Evans said.
U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley, who is co-chairman of the commission, said he relishes the opportunity to further his commitment to the educational process in Columbus.
"All of us, everyone on the commission, is committed to better outcomes for the children in our school system," said Marbley, who's chairman of the board of the KIPP Journey Academy in Columbus and a member of the Ohio State University Board of Trustees.
"We have a good school system," Marbley said, "but we have a school system -- as is the case with every school system -- that has to improve in discrete areas."
Following its series of meetings, the commission plans to complete its draft of recommendations to Coleman and Ginther in April.
All meetings will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Future dates, with locations to be announced, will be:
* Thursday, Jan. 24;
* Friday, Feb. 8;
* Monday, Feb. 18;
* Wednesday, March 6 and
* Thursday, March 21.