What does a strategic plan look like?  Why does the Plainfield school district need a new one that aims higher for every student?

A strategic plan describes goals and the methods to achieve them with available resources. School districts of all sizes use strategic planning to improve student outcomes and respond to changing demographics, while staying within funding guidelines.

Plainfield school district needs a new one because since 2016, the district has failed to improve English and math scores. More than 25% of our seniors are not graduating. We have the data that indicates where our strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities are, but we are not using this information to make the necessary improvements.

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The district’s most recent goal is to improve reading and math skills by 20% in three years. How can the district set goals when they don’t know what changes are needed? Will these goals allow all students to meet or exceed state goals? What programs are working and which are not? The school district continues to do the same things over and over again and then expects a different result.

It is time to stop acting in a vacuum and start governing responsibly--with planning and inclusiveness. It is time to put the education of the children of Plainfield above all else. It is time to develop a strategic plan that includes all stakeholders: parents, teachers, administrators, business owners, residents.

Strategic planning should be a multistep process. After the community and board of education decide what kind of district to aim for, the superintendent and her staff could describe how we will get there. The process should include:

  1. Inspiration to drive change based on beliefs, values, and a view toward long term success
  2. A needs assessment that recognizes the district’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and funding streams
  3. Transparency during the design stage to encourage broad ownership
  4. Engagement with diverse stakeholders
  5. Traceability from vision beliefs to goals, actions, and outcomes
  6. A responsive roadmap, support systems, and actions that align to goals and are based on current context
  7. Measurable outcomes with metrics that are easily monitored for progress

Working together, the community, board, superintendent, and staff can develop this road map to student success.

It’s time. Our children are waiting. They want to succeed. They deserve to succeed. A high-quality education is a RIGHT, not a privilege, in America. By Aiming Higher Together we will make sure our children receive it.  

VOTE Column 1: Andrews Castro Workman