The plan was developed by a group of 21 community stakeholders using AdvancED accreditation standards, feedback from at least 585 community participants and other guidelines to determine direction and goals. The process was facilitated by a team of educators from Burke Education.
The plan outlines goals and strategies for improvement from 2014-2019 that fall under four major categories: governance and leadership; teaching and assessing for learning; facilities, resources and support systems; and collaboration, communication and continuous improvement.
Marcia Burke of Burke Education presented an overview of the plan. She said Sylacauga City Schools are already in good shape.
“You’re doing a strategic plan from a very advantageous vantage point,” Burke said. “You’re not climbing up a steep mountain. You’ve got a great deal of public confidence; you’ve got some good academic achievement, a sound fiscal position. In terms of where you could be planning to get from here to there, you are moving from a level of comfort and challenging yourselves to do more.”
The plan breaks each category into goals and then strategies for achieving those goals. Under governance and leadership, the goals are to: provide qualified, effective, innovative BOE members; provide qualified, effective, innovative system and school leaders; provide opportunities for collaborative efforts to improve school system governance.
Goals for teaching and assessing learning are: provide meaningful, rigorous, relevant, high-quality instruction to meet all students’ needs; improve student achievement and progress toward a 100% graduation rate; provide qualified, effective personnel to meet the needs of the instruction program; collect, analyze and use student data for improved learning and teaching.
For facilities, resources and support systems, goals are: maintain safe and secure learning environments; provide and maintain facilities throughout the system; provide, maintain and allocate up-to-date technology; use student data to improve achievement; use financial, demographic and resource use data to guide fiscal decision-making and planning; provide effective transportation, health and wellness and nutrition services.
Goals for collaboration, communication and continuous improvement are to: use accreditation monitoring plans to increase student achievement, evaluate system success and guide decisions; provide access to data to stakeholders; expand relationships with families, business and post-secondary institutions; monitor and report on the strategic plan.
Board members had few questions about the proposed plan. Skip Smithwick complimented Burke Education for a “magnificent job” and thanked the committee that spent three months formulating the plan.
Board member Melissa Garris, who was part of the planning committee, said the plan “looks really simple, but when you delve into it, there are so many different levels in one seemingly simple statement, so you have to look at every single word. It’s simple, but it covers a lot.”
Burke also presented results from surveys completed by community members, parents and schools employees as part of the planning process. Those results played a large part in determining goals for the system, she said.
“You were very courageous in your approach, in that you decided to involve the community and let community representatives work with you to get to this point…,’ Burke said. “There are other ways to do this, and I think you chose a pretty good one and folks appreciated being able to participate and give their opinions.”
The BOE will vote on the proposed strategic plan at its regular meeting Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the central office.
Contact Emily McLain at email@example.com.