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Decatur School Board discusses strategic plan


Decatur School Board discusses strategic plan

Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board, at its Oct. 25 meeting, discussed an update on the strategic planning process.

The school board is working with the Georgia School Boards Association to develop the strategic plan. The district and GSBA have hosted community engagement opportunities and are currently working with the planning team.

The planning team is facilitated by GSBA and the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI). The team will look at a few essential questions: “Who Are We? Where Are We Now? Where Do We Want To Go,” a spokesperson for CSD said.

“This team – made up of approximately 50 people representing district leaders, teachers, principals, classified staff, community members, parents, students, local business leaders, and two board members – will use information, including the data collected through the input session, survey, and achievement data, to answer the essential questions and draft the strategic plan goal areas,” the spokesperson said.

School Board Chair Jana Johnson-Davis and School Board Vice Chair James Herndon are part of the planning team. They participated in an all-day meeting on Oct. 25.

The team looked at big-bucket ideas and discussed the differences between strategic planning and operational planning, Johnson-Davis said.

“We visited the mission, vision statement and beliefs, and each table gave their feedback on things that they thought they liked and changes they thought could happen,” she said.

The team also built on previous conversations of the school board, including the analysis of strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats the board did during a previous work session, Herndon said.

The team discussed various topics such as operations and maintenance, a culture of engagement and inclusion, student achievement, equity and student services, and attracting and retaining high-quality professionals.

“It looks a tightened up vision, mission and belief sections…four or five big picture goals and action items for each,” Herndon said.

The strategic plan is a community-inspired plan to help set the direction for what the school district can be over the next five years, Superintendent Maggie Fehrman told Decaturish.

“What was great today at the planning team meeting is I was just listening. I didn’t have to analyze the data. I didn’t have to participate in conversations because it’s not about the superintendent,” Fehrman said. “It’s about what our community and what our staff want to see City Schools of Decatur become, what our goals should be.”

CSD doesn’t currently have a strategic plan that is being implemented, although a strategic plan was developed by the previous administration.

“Most districts all have a strategic plan because it informs what the board will set the budget to achieve. It informs staffing plans. It informs what kind of professional development you’ll invest in,” Fehrman said. “I started in the district in 2018. It was already swept aside.”

At the time, there was no centralized accountability for the school board to dictate its unified focus and how it would like to align resources to accomplish its goals.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a new school board was elected, and a new superintendent was hired, so the district waited until it has more stability before moving forward with developing a strategic plan.

“Now that we’ve got stability, we’ve got people in place, we’ve got the desire from the community, which is great, to really have a good strategic plan,” Fehrman said. “That just made it the right time to move forward, so we can focus on what’s important for [the district].”

The strategic plan will be a five-year plan to be on a similar timeline as the district’s charter renewal process, and accommodate for how education changes within a five-year period.

Fehrman will be hosting three town hall meetings in November where the community can attend and review the information discussed at the strategic plan team meeting, as well as the goals and performance objectives that have been drafted.

Here is the schedule for the town hall meetings:

November 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am (virtual) https://csdecatur.zoom.us/j/96433860943

November 3 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm (virtual) https://csdecatur.zoom.us/j/92270288945

November 3 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm (in person) at the DHA Community Resource Center at 481 Electric Avenue

In other business, the school board discussed changing the time of work sessions. Possibly beginning in November, work sessions will be held from 3-5 p.m. instead of 6-8 p.m.

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