Deputy Superintendent LaTarsha Green offered updates on the new Evanston/Skokie 65 School District draft strategic plan at Monday’s Curriculum and Policy Committee meeting.
Green said the strategic plan focuses on five main goals: implementing equity practices, providing access to high-quality, culturally relevant curricula, recruiting and training effective staff, allocating resources for long-term stability and develop a system to assess goal progress.
“You want us to use clear and simple explanations and keep you informed as partners,” Green told the committee. “That’s our attempt with the (strategic) draft plan: more intentional measurement and simple transparent reporting of progress.”
A strategic plan typically underpins district goals for several years. But the current District 65 plan, last updated in 2015, was only supposed to last until 2020. Green said the plan was temporarily extended and supplemented by a district improvement plan called the MIRACLES framework.
MIRACLES emphasizes equity, learning environments, staff retention, instructional strength, and target-oriented goal setting. Green said MIRACLES is essentially a mechanism to enact the strategic plan.
Superintendent Devon Horton said unified goals help ensure school leaders can act in a cohesive manner.
“We’ve chosen a new principal (at Oakton Elementary School),” Horton said. “Because we have this frame set – the six systems, the MIRACLES room, the school work plans – he was able to come in and really fit in and speak the same language.”
Green said the team conducted district-wide surveys and interviews with board members, parents and students to identify community priorities. The team quantified the number of times terms like ‘change’ and ‘equity’ came up in conversations with each group.
Green said she focused on developing a data-aligned plan. The team aims to keep tabs on key updates and actions to ensure progress with a monitoring plan, she said. One of his goals is to update the website to show progress towards each goal.
“Our goal is to be able to identify … what’s going on,” she said. “There should be key updates and key actions that trigger that needle to move so you can see where that progress is happening.”
Elisabeth “Biz” Lindsay-Ryan, member of the Board of Education, expressed concern about the communication of the strategic plan.
“If we were to ask 10 directors and managers about the (strategic plan), how many would they be able to understand and articulate?” she says. “We’re trying to make sure everyone understands (the plan) at the level they need.”
Despite the long timeline, the strategic plan is the blueprint for foundational structures for creating supportive school environments, Green said.
Anya Tanyavutti, who sits on the school board, noted that the strategic plan can help community members see themselves as one district.
“It makes our expectations consistent…but also what families can expect from us,” Tanyavutti said. “There is a common culture, culture and experience as District 65.”
Green said community members can share their feedback through informal polls during a May 17 town hall. The board will vote on the strategic plan on May 23.
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E-mail: [email protected]
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