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City Schools of Decatur in final stages of drafting the strategic plan

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City Schools of Decatur in final stages of drafting the strategic plan

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

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA – City Schools of Decatur is in the final stages of putting together its strategic plan. The school board will consider adopting the plan at its March 14 meeting.

Superintendent Maggie Fehrman shared an update on the strategic plan with the school board on Feb. 21. The board is working with the Georgia School Boards Association to develop the plan.

“The plan will serve as a roadmap for the next five years to guide our school system and community as we address systemic inequities and injustices that impact our community and our nation,” Fehrman said. “This plan provides CSD with a clear focus on students as we confront and overcome racial and economic and social injustices and disparities.”

The community is encouraged to provide input on CSD’s vision and mission statements by taking a survey, which is open until March 5.The survey takes about five to seven minutes to complete. To take the survey, click here.

“Vision and mission statements help ground the work school districts do and represent the shared values and goals that everyone in the school community is committed to working toward,” according to an announcement from CSD about the survey. “They form the foundation for developing and implementing policies and practices to support staff members, families, and students.”

The plan aims to harness CSD’s resources and energy to achieve its priority student outcomes to make sure students have the access, opportunity and support to succeed in college, their career and life, she added.

“This plan will ensure CSD can equitably and effectively meet the needs of all students,” Fehrman said.

Those working on drafting the strategic plan have been working to revise the district’s mission and vision, and also develop the portrait of a graduate.

“Identifying our ‘why’ is essential if we are going to become an anti-racist school system,” Fehrman said. “I’m excited to share with the board that as we put the finishing touches on our strategic plan, we have developed a clear ‘why’ for our work in City Schools of Decatur.”

She added that the country promises justice, freedom, and opportunity for all.

“CSD believes that for that to happen, public school systems must stand firmly against the marginalization of any child,” Fehrman said. “For that to be realized, CSD must be culturally responsive, culturally representative, and inclusive, while we continue to encourage and incubate an honest conversation and courageous discourse about the issues that are most important and sacred to the well-being of our country and our democracy, so our students continue to grow and be committed stewards of a country and world where marginalization, racism, racial and ethnic injustices, and any discriminatory practices are rooted out and eradicated.”

“We believe that as a result, all students will be able to live a healthy, self-sufficient life, that they will be lifelong learners, participate in a productive civic engagement and feel fulfilled in their careers,” she added.

The strategic plan is centered around three core beliefs, the first being developing the whole learner.

“CSD is committed to ensuring the social, emotional, cognitive growth, and mental health of each student,” Fehrman said. “We believe that our school must unearth the gifts and talents of our students while addressing the need for our students, rather than forcing our students to adjust to our system.”

The second core belief is that “no learner can be marginalized” and CSD has a “deliberate focus on paying the educational debt to students of color,” Fehrman said.

“The final belief that we focused on was being future-driven,” she said. “CSD recognizes that the current school model is born out of the 20th-century industrial education model, and those practices and skills need to be updated. We will continue to be asking, are we preparing our students for our past or their future?”

To achieve these incomes, the plan identifies key strategic accelerators that use CSD’s strengths to improve its growth areas and navigate around potential roadblocks. The plan also highlights priority student outcomes.

“These are high-level outcomes crafted to intentionally keep our focus on students as the main purpose of all of our work is CSD,” Fehrman said. “For all of our priority student outcomes, we have developed additional incremental goals for our system to achieve that build upon each other, so we can eventually achieve these big, audacious goals.

The planning team previously identified five big areas for the district to focus on and identified strategic accelerators, things that will help the district move toward those goals quickly and efficiently.

Here are the five goal areas:

– Student success in all areas

– Equity and student support

– Organizational effectiveness and excellence

– Cultivating and retaining quality professionals

– Building and sustaining an engaging and inclusive culture:

When the plan is adopted by the school board, the district will hold three town halls to launch the plan.

“I’m really excited to launch this work and share it with the community because I think it is really going to be a unifying plan for our school system,” Fehrman said.

In other business, Fehrman shared that CSD has met all of its Individuals with Disabilities Education Act performance compliance indicators at 100% based on the 2021-2022 school year.

“This means that CSD is considered to be meeting all of the requirements and purposes of IDEA, which… is the federal law that governs special education,” Fehrman said. “This is one of those badges of honor that our district has earned over the years and continues to consistently meet the high expectations. It’s noteworthy that our initial evaluations of children referred for special education evaluations are once again 100%, even when other districts in the metro area are still struggling to catch up from referrals in the post-pandemic area.”

The dyslexia task force is finalizing its evaluation and writing recommendations that it will share at a subsequent school board work session.

CSD has finalized the school-based staffing allocations for the next school year, and will not be reducing any school-based staff.

“We have plans to continue adding to our counseling staff and several teaching positions where enrollment has increased,” Fehrman said.

The school board will meet on Tuesday, March 7, at 3 p.m. for a work session at the Wilson School Support Center, 125 Electric Ave.

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