Thursday, August 7, 2008
District sets priorities for its strategic plan
By SUE WATSON
A group of about 20 school administrators and teachers selected the priority activities that will support six goals in the Holly Springs School District’s five-year plan.
Dr. Ilene Richards, facilitator for the planning process, said the new five-year plan is likely to be a marriage of the old plan with the new.
“There is lots of overlap with the existing plan,” she said. “That shows this group truly does want to follow what it had. It’s about marrying the two plans into one document.”
The six goals for the district selected in the first three planning meetings included – decreasing the dropout rate; hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers; improving community involvement in district matters and implementing network of communication that links the entire community; challenging students academically for success; building technology supports; and providing a safe and orderly school climate.
The planning process includes data-based strategies to assess how the plan is fairing each year. Specific targets for each goal will be set each year after the baseline data is pulled together.
Implementing the plan will be an incremental process with small steps taken along the way and evaluation of progress in attaining each targeted goal yearly.
“Some targets will take a year to get ready, so prioritize the activities you think can get done this year, then the next and the next,” she said.
Richards said it will be important for the district to look at both successful and unsuccessful results and to revise the plan as needed.
“We will have to consider how to measure progress in the plan - a qualitative plan - and get baseline data first,” she said. “We must know this first, for each goal. We must have concrete information to evaluate growth or the effectiveness of this plan.”
In evaluating, if the plan is decreasing the dropout rate and increasing graduation rates, as an example, the current dropout rate and graduation rate must be known, she said. Then realistic goals for yearly increases in graduation rates and decreases in dropout rates will be set as targets. The district will know if it has met its target for each activity in the plan that supports one of the six goals.
Richards expects the district could be three years into the plan before noticeable gains are demonstrated.
“Change is a process, not an event,” she said. “We have to be realistic about goals and progress. We are talking about changing, in many instances, people. You don’t change people overnight. You’ve got to get them on board and work with them.”
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