Friday, February 23, 2018

Strategic Plan Update

One of the many opportunities bestowed upon the new superintendent as she opened the 2017-18 school year was the creation of a new strategic plan. The current five-year plan, launched in 2013-14, was entering its final year.
Because strategic planning is a lengthy and detailed process, Dr. Baldwin knew our school district would need to simultaneously finish the current plan while preparing the next…and that it would take nearly a full year. The rest of this story is divided into three sections: Past, Present and Future.
The first step was to identify a small internal team that would drive the process. Three staff members were tabbed: Jeff Nash (Executive Director of Community Relations), Diane Villwock (Executive Director of Assessment and Research), and Misti Williams (Executive Director of Leadership and Federal Programs).
Next, a committee would need to be established. It was crucial that this committee resemble a cross section of our community. Seventeen people were selected, representing parents, community groups, students, teachers, principals and our local university. To date, the committee has met four times with another meeting scheduled in April. 
In order to create a plan that will guide our work for the next three years, it was important to collect data – specifically regarding the definition of student success, what is currently working and what needs changing. We also wanted to know what our community wants to see in the new plan.
Data was collected in a variety of ways. This fall, we sent a survey out to all families and all staff members. It was available in a variety of languages. The survey also went out on social media and was placed on the district website. We were pleased to receive nearly 1,100 responses.
Additionally, we asked each School Improvement Team to host a table top discussion – an event in which parents and community members could come in person and talk through their thoughts about what is currently working and what needs changing. Twenty of these events took place in a five-week span during October and November.
Dr. Baldwin and Jeff Nash also traveled to all schools between September and January, hosting 19 student focus groups and 20 staff focus groups. Separate focus groups were also conducted for business partners, principals, assistant principals, the Instructional Services Division and the High School Student Advisory Council. Altogether, 44 focus groups took place, with a combined participation of approximately 475 people.
The feedback collected from the survey, table top conversations and focus groups was massive – in fact, it was approximately 500 pages of input.
K-12 Insight, a company that assisted with the survey, also helped us sort the data into categories of comments that were mentioned by a “strong majority of participants”, “several participants” and “some participants.”
From there, the Strategic Planning Committee helped sort the feedback into four main categories. While the names may eventually change, they are currently being referenced as the following: Whole Child; Family and Community Engagement; Human Capital; and Organizational Structure.
These groupings give structure to the new plan.
The four categories were presented to the Cabinet in early February, and a captain was assigned to each. Those assignments are listed below.
            Whole Child – Rydell Harrison (Assistant Superintendent – Instructional Services)
            Family and Community Engagement – Jeff Nash (Executive Director – Community Relations)
            Human Capital – Erika Newkirk (Senior Executive Director – Human Resources)
            Organizational Structure – Todd LoFrese (Assistant Superintendent – Support Services)
Each captain has been tasked with drafting a set of goals for his/her area based on the data collected this fall. These draft goals are in the process of being written and will be collected soon. 
This will give shape to the new plan.
The next step is to move the goals from draft to final. They will be vetted by the Strategic Planning Committee to ensure they match the data provided by our community. They will also be previewed by the school principals to make sure that what makes it to the final plan will be both accomplishable and beneficial for students and families. 
The plan will then be brought to the Board for final approval. Once approved, it will be distributed electronically to our community and to staff. This will happen before the end of the current school year. Printed versions of the plan will be produced during the summer and available upon the opening of the 2018-19 school year. 
This new plan is indeed a huge project. However, our work will result in a compass that will surely keep us headed in the right direction for children. The planning process requires the participation of our entire community…but so does the implementation. Once we share the plan in June, know that the real work is just beginning. 
Thank you to everyone who has contributed feedback and expertise, and to everyone who will help us move forward. Your continued support of our students and schools is greatly appreciated.