The Bexley City School District is moving forward with its first strategic plan in a decade.

The district's school board voted unanimously Aug. 20 to approve a new strategic plan that was completed this spring.

Superintendent Kimberly Pietsch Miller said the district officially will unveil the plan to the public in a ceremony at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Cassingham complex, 326 S. Cassingham Road.

Miller and members of the district's eight-person Strategic Planning Team gave an overview of the plan Aug. 20.

Miller said the strategic plan was necessitated by the fact that the district's last one was created more than 10 years ago and the district gained new administrative leadership last year when the board of education hired her and Treasurer Kyle Smith.

After becoming superintendent on Aug. 1, 2017, "I held almost 100 meetings with groups or individuals in my first seven months on the job," Miller said in a post on the district's website, bexleyschools .org. "All of this data-gathering was then used to direct our next major effort: strategic planning."

Increasing enrollment was also a factor in the strategic plan, Miller said. Over the past 10 years, the district's enrollment has increased by 442 students, according to Future Think, a New York-based firm that analyzes data and provides enrollment projections to schools. Enrollment at the end of the 2017-18 school year was 2,372 students and it is projected to grow by an additional 442 students in the next nine to 10 years.

Assisted by Cincinnati-based consulting firm Leadership Excelleration Inc., the district began the strategic-planning process in March. The process involved reviewing practices of similar districts and local and national trends, interviewing board of education members, conducting an online survey and hosting in-person focus groups with students, faculty, parents and community members.

The strategic plan contains three-year goals and annual objectives in areas that include instruction, students' social and emotional development, staff professional development and community partnerships.

A first-year goal of the strategic plan is to identify community partnerships and to hire a coordinator to establish student internships at area businesses.

"We want our students to be able to learn from others, and we want the community to benefit from the knowledge that our kids bring," said Michelle Mineo, a board member who served on the Strategic Planning Team.

Another first-year goal of the strategic plan is to identify learning goals based on students' individual needs, determine academic achievement gaps and assess students' social and emotional needs.

"Once we do the assessment, part of what will be really important is supporting our staff and making sure that they have training," said Leisan Smith, the district's director of student engagement.

Developing a facilities master plan is also among the first-year goals.

"Facilities, safety plans, all those things are going to be a big part of this as we try to make sure that we are giving our kids the optimal learning environment," Bexley Middle School Principal Jason Caudill said.

The strategic plan will assist the Bexley Education Foundation in raising money to support the district's educational initiatives, said Pamela Glasgow, the foundation's executive director.

"That's what successful organizations do: They have a vision and it's something that donors can buy into," she said.

"That's what our goal would be in the next year or so, is to really take that vision and that strategy and communicate to those who want to (contribute)."

The district estimates the cost of implementing the strategic plan at $445,000, and it is working to break down the costs of each expenditure, Miller said.

Costs associated with the plan must be presented to the school board for approval before being implemented, she said.

"Any contract or expenditure still has to come before the board," she said.

The Strategic Planning Team also included Laura Lipsett, executive director of school programs; Kristen Rohrer, school psychologist; Michelle Rogers, high school English teacher; and James Harless, public information officer.

Harless said the strategic plan has not yet been posted to the district's website, but details will be revealed at the Oct. 17 event.

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