Jackson school district reviews updates to strategic plan

Sunday, July 16, 2017
John Link

One year of planning by 150 people brought the Jackson School District a comprehensive strategic plan last year, and updates to it were reviewed at Tuesday's board meeting.

Superintendent John Link said the review and planning processes were the best way for him, as an incoming superintendent in July 2015, to hear directly from employees, parents and residents exactly what the district's focus needs to be.

The three-year plan differs from the comprehensive school improvement plan, or CSIP, Link said. The summary page of the plan may be viewed online at jacksonr2schools.com/District/Strategic-Plan/.

"The strategic plan, we put together starting last year. It's a more robust plan," Link said. "The CSIP dealt more with meeting criteria for the Missouri School Improvement plan, which was more geared toward college and career readiness, academics and assessment."

Link said the new strategic plan still encompasses the CSIP's objectives, but the new plan is more robust.

Five action plans, complete with action steps, are: finance, technology, whole child, curriculum and facility.

Each action step identifies the committee responsible, a starting date, due date and whether it's been completed. Steps are color-coded by academic year to be implemented.

Under finance, immediate needs to be addressed include educating parents about the free and reduced lunch program, exploring grant opportunities and expanding personal development programs for teachers.

In fact, personal development is an action step under each action plan.

Link said the district is on the cusp of big technological advances, and the action plan reflects that.

A checkout system and device plan already are created, according to the strategic plan document, and some devices will be in classrooms for the 2017-2018 school year.

The "whole child" strategy focuses in on developing good citizenship in students, by minimizing bullying, preparing students for each new stage as they progress, increasing service learning opportunities and otherwise building up students for their experiences not only in school but in life, Link said.

Jackson Middle School assistant principal Mike Martin said at Tuesday's board meeting he's all about innovation in the district, but he wants to take a step back to help develop stronger citizenship for students at Jackson.

"What makes this town the way it is now?" Martin asked at the meeting. "The traditional morals, values, beliefs Jackson has. It's our obligation to teach character."

"That was the easiest consensus of the group," Link said of Martin's speech.

Link said this approach is valuable for the future of Jackson as well as the future of the school system.

"We want to teach students to do things for others because it's something you do, not because you get something in return," Link said.

That way, the graduated student can succeed at life but also be future leaders, Link added.

One curriculum goal is to explore options for "4Cs" learning: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. It would include giving students more options for personalized learning, such as passion projects and introducing more technology-based options.

The capital improvement plan already covers facility maintenance and planned upgrades, but goals under facilities include ensuring each district building has all points of entry secured, and parents, students and staff are all able to communicate in an emergency situation.

That the plan was developed by and with residents, employees and students is important, Link said.

"When I came on in July 2015, part of my transition plan coming in to the district was to assess the community with questions, looking around, going places, meeting groups, to find out what it was drove our community and school," Link said.

"All in all, we had about 150 community members, citizens, teachers and students who came together to discuss and look at our vision," Link said.

Decisions weren't made by majority vote, Link added.

"Every decision had to be a consensus," Link said.

If the group of 30 people couldn't reach consensus, Link said, it was back to the drawing board until agreement could be reached.

"Some things we were doing were very important to us in the district but our community said weren't that important, so we left that out," Link said, adding, "It was so neat to see our administration and professionals look at that and come to consensus how to bring some back in, what to leave out."

Link said the foremost guiding principle was student learning, which made the committee's discussions easier.

"At the end of the day, it's about learning," Link said. "We want to teach students about learning, and to treat people with dignity. In the world we live in today, we could all use a little of that."

mniederkorn@semissourian.com

(573) 388-3630

Pertinent address:

614 E. Adams St., Jackson, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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