The Bexley City School District is continuing to seek the community’s input and participation in its first strategic plan in more than a decade, Superintendent Kimberly Pietsch Miller said at a Nov. 15 meeting at Bexley City Hall.
Assisted by Cincinnati-based consulting firm Leadership Excelleration Inc., the district began its strategic planning process in March and school board members adopted it on Aug. 20.
“We sent surveys to over 3,000 people, all sixth- through 12th-grade students, every staff member, every parent and 750 non-parent community members,” Miller said. “We wanted to make sure we had a lot of input.”
In addition, the process involved an online survey; interviews with school board members; reviewing practices of similar districts and local and national trends; and hosting nine focus groups with students, faculty, parents and community members, Miller said.
“What we did in those focus groups and those surveys was we asked, ‘What does Bexley schools do really well and where are there opportunities for growth?’ ” Miller said. “The plan is really built around those opportunities for growth.”
The strategic plan consists of four themes:
• Theme 1 – Build upon a student-centered learning culture.
• Theme 2 – Open doors that lead to flexible, expansive future opportunities.
• Theme 3 – Leverage and grow vital community partnerships.
• Theme 4 – Develop a high-performing team.
As part of the Nov. 15 session, Miller explained three-year objectives and first-year goals for each of the four themes.
For the first theme, the three-year objective is to create student success profiles as a foundation for learning, which involves identifying learning goals for individual students, Miller said. One of the first-year goals is to assess opportunity and achievement gaps, she said.
“Our African-American students, our Hispanic students, our economically disadvantaged students and our students with disabilities are not achieving at the same levels as some of our other students,” Miller said. “We have to look at how we address those gaps.”
For the second theme, the three-year objective is to “achieve aligned instructional leadership and academic coaching on the path to innovation.” One of the first-year goals is to assess curricula at every grade level and implement necessary changes, Miller said.
“Every five years, we’re re-looking at every curricula area,” she said. “We have to have a process where we do these things regularly.”
For the third theme, the three-year objective is to build relationships that enhance students’ experiences and opportunities. One of the first-year goals is to identify businesses and other community partners who can offer students internships, Miller said.
“We want to make sure we look for those partnerships to start to get our kids those experiences,” she said. “Maybe you take fewer (Advanced Placement) courses and you go work with a forensic scientist, or you go work with a finance person in a bank, or maybe you go work with someone who’s an electrician because you want to learn about that. We want to make sure we have opportunities for kids to get out.”
For the fourth theme, the three-year objective is to “investment in an optimal Bexley culture,” which involves aligning each school to the same set of goals and practices, Miller said. One of the first-year goals is to ensure staff and parents are working together to implement the strategic plan, she said.
“A lot of this year is making sure we’re all on that same page,” Miller said.
According to the expenses outlined in the strategic plan, the total cost of its implementation is estimated at $445,000. The breakdown of the costs is as follows:
• $175,000 for new instructional coaches.
• $100,000 for a dedicated staff person to develop student internships.
• $50,000 for technology.
• $50,000 for consulting services related to students’ social and emotional well-being.
• $25,000 for instructional coaching and consulting.
• $25,000 for branding and promoting public awareness of the strategic plan.
• $20,000 for staff development related to curriculum changes.
Miller said some of the projects would be funded from the district’s existing budget, and for other projects, officials will seek funds from the Bexley Education Foundation, sorting out how each project will be funded as they go along.
Miller said she and other administrators will make adjustments to the strategic plan as each goal is implemented, so costs may change and the district might not make all of the outlined expenditures.
The board of education will have to approve any expenditure, she said.
“We did not write a plan that’s going to sit on a shelf,” Miller said. “We engaged our students, our staff, our parents and our community in developing a plan and we are committed to implementing this plan and monitoring our progress and making sure that we are achieving the success that we’ve said we want for our kids.”