Cordie: Student Success Act, district priorities work together
The Sherwood School District (SSD), along with districts all across Oregon, recognize the historic opportunity K-12 education has been given with the passage of the Student Success Act (SSA).
The SSA provides approximately $1B each year for K-12 education, with about half of those funds going directly to school districts. The central focus of the SSA is on improving achievement for all students while closing the opportunity gap, as well as student well-being — two areas that are front-and-center in our work in the SSD.
When we began to learn more about the requirements of the Act, we took the time to step back and think about the bigger picture in the SSD. We quickly identified the need to align our strategic priorities as a district — both now and in the future — with any potential investments we pursue using SSA funds. To ensure this alignment, in fall 2019 the district began the work needed to not only
identify SSA priorities, but also to create a new Strategic Plan that will guide our future work.
The district took a three-pronged approach to developing a Strategic Plan that aligns with the priorities of the Student Success Act. First, we began conducting research regarding the effectiveness of a variety of potential strategies to improve student outcomes. We presented our findings to the Board of Directors and our administrative team in August 2019, and using their feedback focused our work on five major areas:
? Improving student achievement and reducing disparities
? Behavioral/mental health
? Early learning
? Well-rounded educational programs/opportunities
? Facilities and operations (in support of the other four areas)
Second, we asked our community for their input. We developed a presentation which provided information and included a Needs Assessment Survey. This survey asked for people to share their thinking about each of the strategies listed above and provided an opportunity to share other strategies we should be considering. We have taken our stakeholder engagement processes very seriously,
reaching out to groups large and small from all over our district and community to learn what is needed.
We have engaged stakeholders at a variety of locations and events, including: Community Forums, Latinx Parent Nights, AVID classes at middle and high schools, Back-to-School Nights at elementary schools, Conference Nights at middle and high schools, a Rotary Club meeting, a Chamber of Commerce meeting, staff meetings across all district schools and departments, and more. Our Needs Assessment Survey received over 1,500 responses throughout the fall months.
Third, we revisited a strategic planning process that has been successful for our district in the past. Five years ago, we brought together stakeholders to create our current Strategic Plan, and this past fall, we brought 30 more stakeholders together to create the next iteration of that plan.
The needs are emerging clearly — and are aligning — as we have diligently worked to create the next iteration of our Strategic Plan. That plan will also guide and inform our SSA investments — and next phase of stakeholder input — that will be submitted in early March. We recognize that in order to truly effect change in a district, our goals need to focus in the same direction, our budgets should reflect our priorities, and the way we spend our "time" — in meetings, conversations, etc. — should all be in support of those overarching goals and bodies of work.
Heather Cordie is superintendent of the Sherwood School District.
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