Superintendent’s Corner: The importance of strategic planning in our schools |

Superintendent’s Corner: The importance of strategic planning in our schools

Dr. Jesús Rodríguez

One of the reasons I wanted to join the Roaring Fork Schools was because of its strong strategic plan and mission statement. I believe in the work the community outlined through a strategic planning process that informed the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan that the Board adopted in June 2019.

As we plan for our final year with the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, not only are we outlining the work we want to prioritize next school year, but we are also planning to engage our school district community to develop our next strategic plan for 2024 and beyond.

Next year, you can expect us to continue much of the work our community identified as important. We recently shared our 2022-23 Strategic Priorities Update and there is still a lot of important work for us to continue. Last June, each of the initiatives included in the priorities update was identified as a standalone priority. In August, we presented a small revision to the Board of Education which identified only two priorities: Equity and Recruitment/Retention.

As we look forward to next year, we have recently identified three priorities with three initiatives for each:

Priority 1: Increase Equity in Student Achievement

1. School Culture

2. High Quality Instruction

3. Career & Technical Education

Priority 2: Recruitment & Retention

1. Education Opportunity Fund

2. Creative Recruitment Strategies

3. Staff Housing

Priority 3: Strategic Planning for 2024-2029

1. Portrait of a Graduate & Core Values

2. School Models Planning

3. 2024-29 Strategic Plan Development

Though two of our three priorities are new, our focused priorities and corresponding initiatives for the 2023-24 school year remain aligned with our 2019-24 Strategic Plan. For example, one of the strategies of the 2019-24 plan includes: invest in talent to develop, retain, and attract great teachers, leaders and staff in all departments.

In support of that strategy, next year we plan to launch the education opportunity fund which will provide resources and create avenues for all staff to continue to learn and grow; we are committed to continuing to invest in and expand our staff housing program while exploring new opportunities; and we will continue to explore and implement creative recruitment strategies.

As indicated above, next year we are naming a new priority: to increase equity in student achievement with specific initiatives around school culture, ensuring high quality instruction through the implementation of our unified improvement plan, and to continue to expand our career and technical education program.

Another new priority for next year centers around the development of our 2024-2029 Strategic Plan. As part of our strategic planning work, we plan to develop recommended school models to help clarify resource allocation and planning.

It was important for us to get a head start on our 2024-2029 strategic planning work this spring so we have begun some of the groundwork by co-designing and co-creating our District Core Values and Portrait of a Graduate.

Core values are the grounding force and foundational principles for our district and all the actors within it. Our core values should guide our district’s actions and direction. They should be used as the first line of decision-making and serve as cultural cornerstones. Our core values will clearly articulate our collective “why” and will help guide our next strategic planning process.

A Portrait of a Graduate is a document that we will use to specify the cognitive, personal and interpersonal competencies that all students should have when they graduate from the Roaring Fork School District. These should be co-created with input from key stakeholders. It is also a clear shared visualization of priority goals for teaching and learning that can be easily communicated to students, parents, staff and community members to align our collective efforts. Our Portrait of a Graduate will be our “what” or our vision — our northstar, if you will.

Earlier this spring, we sent out surveys and hosted focus groups to gather input on what our District Core Values and Portrait of a Graduate should be. We assembled a District Design Team with parents, staff, students and community members from Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs that represent students PreK-12th grade. Our Design Team worked to categorize themes we heard from stakeholders earlier this spring; then we had students design four prototypes of the visualization of our Portrait of a Graduate. We currently have a graphic artist working to combine the ideas from all four prototypes and the feedback from stakeholders and our Design Team.

At this time, we welcome additional feedback on the direction we are going with our District Core Values and Portrait of a Graduate. Pending additional feedback collected, we are excited to present our District Core Values and Portrait of a Graduate to our Board of Education for approval and develop a communication strategy for our community at large. We also look forward to engaging in our 2024-2029 strategic planning process with all stakeholders this fall.

Finally, thank you to all staff members of team RFSD! You each play a critical role in ensuring that we can fulfill our mission that we will ensure every student develops the enduring knowledge, skills and character to thrive in a changing world. Here is to the 2023-24 school year and beyond!

Jesús Rodríguez is Superintendent of the Roaring Fork District Schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

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