Blueprint for district’s future

School board approves new 5-year strategic plan

 Lunn

Lunn

The Independent School District 834 Board unanimously approved the basis of a five-year strategic plan Thursday night, the result of work by 220 student, staff, teacher and community volunteers.

“We’re hoping to build on what we currently have.” said Superintendent Corey Lunn said. “We’re going to build on infusing new ideas, building on the good and abandoning the unnecessaries and begin with the end in mind.”

Lunn compared the process to repairing an old home that’s been in a family for years and needs upgrades and renovations. The district’s blueprints include various ideas and plans for the future that follow missions, beliefs, objectives and strategies.

The new strategic plan includes 300 action steps focusing on: service learning, valuing others, community contribution, creating curiosity, developing leaders, including diverse perspectives, promoting innovation, maximizing potential and creating strong relationships. The district also aims to continue preparing students for the future.

“We already have a lot of pockets in the district that do these things, but this will make it collaborative and consistent,” Lunn said.

Some ideas Lunn highlighted Thursday include changing what and how the district teaches students; infusing passion in each students’ learning; meeting kids ‘where they are’; engaging in service to others, and establishing foundations for success.

Regarding curriculum, the district wants to change what and how students are taught. The district plans to embed 21st century skills into all learning areas, assess the efficiency of what’s being taught, compare the district to other top districts and capitalize on student and staff diversity and culture. The district also plans to review all curriculum as needed instead of on a seven-year cycle.

District officials also want to establish stronger support for students and their families. They plan to do this by adapting lessons to meet each student’s unique learning needs. They hope to give students opportunities to explore their passions by developing personal learning pathways to guide students through high school to post-secondary education and their careers. They also want to offer flexible learning schedules and alternatives to traditional learning environments, according to Lunn.

Lunn added that the district plans to implement community service at every school, incorporate service learning at every grade level, expand volunteer opportunities in schools, and ask community experts share their experiences with students.

The district also wants to expand mental health and wellness services and support students and families through transitions. They also plan to teach problem-solving skills and bullying prevention.

For staff, the district wants to customize employee training, recognize staff contributions, provide peer-to-peer expertise and feedback for professional growth and ensure all employees have the attributes and skills to achieve the district’s mission and objectives going forward.

Plans to achieve these goals will be divided over five years and be presented to the board on March 21. Schools will then develop site plans to achieve goals. Resources will then be identified and allocated, strategies put in place to abandon what is no longer needed, and the district will seek new resources.

Also at the meeting:

  • School district officials presented the feedback received from parents at two town hall meetings this week to the board. Communications Director Carissa Keister said class size, student programming impact and learning interventions were the main concerns parents consistently referred to at the meetings.

Other things addressed were transportation cuts and having students possibly having to cross hazardous roads. Four-day school weeks were also a concern, along with equity and possible expansion of the achievement gap between students of different means if proposed cuts occurred.

  • Assistant Superintendent Ray Queener said the district has accomplished about 80 percent of its current strategic plan, Vision 2014, and is on track going forward.

“We’re really setting the table for our next strategic plan to take place,” he said. “There’s a lot of interconnectedness between the two.”

  • Lunn presented a draft of the 2013-2014 school year calendar for board approval March 7
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