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Decatur School Board adopts strategic plan

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Decatur School Board adopts strategic plan

The Decatur School Board met on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, and adopted City Schools of Decatur's strategic plan. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board adopted the district’s strategic planning during its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 14.

The plan, called All in Decatur, will serve as a guide for the school district for the next five years and “bring out the best in our students, educators, families, and city through outstanding, inclusive public education,” the presentation states.

“This plan provides CSD with a clear focus on students as we confront and overcome racial, economic, social injustices and disparities,” Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said. “The bottom is that this plan will ensure CSD can equitably and effectively meet the needs of all of our students.”

Fehrman added that the non-negotiable items that will benchmark CSD’s success are:

– All scholars will be skilled readers by the end of third grade.

– Every school environment will be inclusive for all students.

– Every student will be safe, seen, and successful.

– Every student will have a high-quality learning experience because every teacher is a great teacher.

The strategic plan highlights three core beliefs. The first is whole learner development.

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

The second core belief is that no learner can be marginalized.

“When we say all, we mean all, with a deliberate focus on investing in our students of color who have been historically marginalized,” Fehrman said. “CSD will serve as a national model for anti-marginalization and systemic equity.”

The third core belief is being future-driven.

“We recognize that our current school model was built by people a long, long time ago and that model is outdated and needs to be changed,” Fehrman said. “We will continuously ask, are we preparing our students for our past or for their future?”

To achieve these incomes, the plan identifies key strategic accelerators – building and sustaining an engaging and inclusive culture, organizational effectiveness and excellence, cultivating and retaining quality professionals, and student success in all areas.

Initially, these were the goal areas and at the beginning of the strategic planning process, there were five goal areas. One of those is related to equity.

“Equity was a separate goal initiative, and we felt strongly as a team that needed to be part of what we do in every single initiative. Instead of [thinking] as initiatives, these are accelerators that will help us move the work forward,” Fehrman said. “To achieve our ambitious outcomes, we’ve identified these accelerators, and we did this with the intention of taking advantage of opportunities and the resources in our community.”

To see the breakdown of initiatives and outcomes related to the strategic accelerators, click here. To view the full strategic plan presentation, click here.

The plan also highlights priority student outcomes.

“Priority student outcomes are high-level outcomes crafted to intentionally keep our focus on our students, which is the main purpose that we are here [for] in CSD,” Fehrman said. “For both of these priority student outcomes, we have developed additional incremental goals for our system to achieve that will build upon each other, so we can achieve those priority student outcomes.”

Here are the priority student outcomes:

– CSD will cultivate scholars to become leaders who live healthy, self-sufficient lives, be lifelong learners, participate in productive civic engagement, and feel fulfilled in their careers.

– CSD will improve opportunities, access, and classroom environments so all scholars can achieve high academic results, equitable representation in advanced classes, and equitable discipline outcomes.

To implement the strategic plan, CSD has outlined the work related to the strategic accelerators and the priority student outcomes. For the priority student outcomes, the district has laid out the work, identified measurement tools, and designed how it will roll out the delivery of various initiatives.

The implementation process of the strategic plan will include discovering and identifying goals, understanding current programs, defining what success looks like, selecting and designing interventions, stress testing the interventions, and monitoring them.

Throughout the process, the district will deliver the interventions and put them in place, as well as monitor and evaluating data from the outcomes to figure out if the initiative needs to be scaled up or reevaluated.

The school board will receive quarterly updates on how the district is progressing through the implementation phases, and the progress of the priority student outcomes will be tracked on a dashboard.

The dashboard is intended to show how the district is serving its students, Board Member Hans Utz said.

“There’s a lot of stuff here, but what it means to the kids is what’s [important], and we’ll be watching it closely on the dashboard,” Utz said.

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