The next round of Roaring Fork School District visioning meetings, coming up next week, aims to take the priorities stated by parents, community leaders, teachers, staff and students during a similar series of meetings last fall and incorporate them into a new set of objectives for district schools.
Another series of visioning meetings will take place March 11-13 in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs (see accompanying schedule), with separate sessions for teachers and staff during the day, followed by evening sessions that invite the larger community to participate.
“The input and ideas we received from October’s visioning conversations energized us with a strong focus and new sense of purpose,” RFSD Superintendent Diana Sirko said of the next steps for the district to develop a long-range strategic plan that will guide education programming in district schools for the next several years.
“We have been hard at work developing the next steps and are very excited to share with each of our communities the progress we have made so far,” Sirko said. “Equally as important, we also want to ensure we are on the right track as we take their thoughts and priorities and turn them into actions to make the vision a reality for our schools.”
According to a consultants report prepared by The Civic Canopy, which facilitated the visioning meetings, among the priorities identified by the more than 930 people who participated in the fall meetings were for RFSD schools to prepare its students with:
• High academic standards, including academic knowledge, basic skills and college readiness.
• Critical thinking skills, including problem-solving, creativity, and having the ability to work through difficult situations.
• Character skills, such as resilience, determination, and the belief that students can succeed.
• Social skills, an ability to collaborate with other people, and civic responsibility.
At the same time, the district should work to attract and retain the best teachers possible, maintain a safe school environment, provide more hands-on, projects-based learning opportunities, and continue to provide support for struggling students, special needs students, advanced students and English Language learners, according to the report.
One outcome is a new draft mission statement that was reviewed by the RFSD school board in January, which reads: Roaring Fork schools will ensure that every student develops the enduring knowledge, skills and character to thrive in a changing world.
From that, a list of commitments were established, which are outlined in the district’s visioning process update from Feb. 17, which is posted on the RFSD website at www.rfschools.com/about-us/district-vision.html.
Besides preparing students with academic, social, character, problem-solving and civic skills, the draft strategic plan challenges local schools to:
• Create a safe and caring environment.
• Maintain high expectations for effort, learning and achievement.
• Provide meaningful, engaging, experiential learning opportunities.
• Support and challenge every student.
• Attract, develop and retain the best teachers and leaders and empower them to teach and lead.
• Inform, engage and work in partnership with families and the community.
In support of that, the district would commit to provide the necessary resources to accomplish those objectives, and to maintain open communication with individual schools and with the broader community about the successes and challenges in achieving those goals.
The next round of visioning will focus on the role of parents and the community in carrying out the plan, as well as further discussion of the district’s core beliefs and values,
The format for the meetings next week will be similar to the ones in the fall, and will again be facilitated by Civic Canopy.
Participants will be asked to share their thoughts about academic performance, student character development, teacher development, and parent and community engagement in local schools and the district as a whole.
Input will also be sought on the following topics:
• Review of the mission statement and commitments, and alignment with the hopes and desires for district schools that were expressed in the fall meetings.
• Consideration of the components of the strategic plan and the work done so far.
• Discussion of opportunities for ongoing community engagement in the schools.
The strategic plan will be further discussed by the district’s strategic planning committee during the next two months. A final draft of the strategic plan is expected to come before the RFSD school board for final approval in May, and implementation could begin this summer.