Central approves strategic plan

Document will guide district

INDEPENDENCE -- Central School Board members have taken the first steps toward attaining the goals outlined in its strategic plan.

Meeting Feb. 4, the board unanimously approved the document, created with exhaustive community input over the course of a year.

"I'm delighted with the outcome," said Superintendent Forrest Bell. "It gives a clear direction and helps capture the vision the board has for the school district."

From this point, district officials will filter their decisions through the plan, Bell said. He'll also direct school principals to set their goals around the strategic plan.

The plan includes commitments to "provide a rich curriculum that arouses passion and promotes personal and social development" and to give students a sense of belonging.

At the district level, it will become the language of day-to-day operations. "This creates the marching orders on how we will conduct business in the upcoming months and years," Bell said.

One change in viewpoint affects how student performance is measured. "When it comes to our students, there are no acceptable losses," the strategic plan reads. "We will not quit."

That's important to remember, Bell said, in light of the recent school report cards. The percent of students reaching certain benchmarks might be "satisfactory" to the state but still not "acceptable" in the district.

"We have a lot of work to do," Bell said. "Eighty percent isn't good enough, 83 percent isn't good enough.

"We're going to keep improving our schools one kid, one class, one school at a time."

Having a strategic plan helps define the district's focus. And that's more than just passing a state test.

"That's not our goal," Bell said. "Our goal is the success of every child."

Central's strategic plan will be assessed each year in an annual progress report. Bell thinks the document has the flexibility to last upwards of a decade.

"It's a dynamic rather than a strategic process."

That process involves reaching out to build more community partnerships, recognizing the strength in the district's diverse population, and making sure students have the basic skills to give them a competitive advantage.


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