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Strategic Planning Process will Identify Clear Priorities for District

Community members and staff collaborate at Superintenent Heather Tow-Yick's First 100 Days community forum in the fall.

District officials have heard a steady call for strategic planning throughout the search for our district’s new superintendent, community forums, ThoughtExchanges and other interactions with students, staff and our community. That work is now officially underway.  

Strategic planning will help define our district’s vision and identify priority focus areas for the next three years. It will also clearly outline the goals, metrics and strategies that will bring the plan to life.  

“I’m excited about the work and the upcoming milestones,” School Board President Sydne Mullings said during the Jan. 12 School Board meeting.  

The process calls for: 

  • The creation of a three-year strategic plan. 
  • Further definition of the district’s vision and identification of priority areas for the district to focus on in the next three years. 
  • Clear goals, actions to achieve the goals and metrics to measure progress. 

“The priorities that are emerging are in areas such as ensuring all our students are successful through a focus on student wellness, inspirational academic opportunities, support for our staff, strong operations, and authentic engagement with our community,” Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick said. “It’s clear that our strengths as a district include incredibly dedicated staff, rigorous academic opportunities and a strong track record of success as measured by high school graduation.” 

The work is being completed with the support of staff members including Marcel Hauser, Senior Advisor and Strategy, and a consulting firm called Delivery Associates.  

“I am excited about contributing to this effort, and look forward to seeing its impact on student achievement,” said Hauser, who most recently worked as the director of Strategy and Project Management in the Mukilteo School District. He holds an MBA and a master’s degree in data analytics. “What drew me to this role was the district’s commitment to excellence and its launch of the strategic planning process.”  

To kick off this work, the team reviewed the district’s current mission and Ends (goals) for students, as well as data about student success (for example, graduation rates and testing data), feedback from parent/guardian and student surveys, lessons learned from Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick's First 100 Days plan and work, community input from the superintendent search process, data from the community forum and recent ThoughtExchanges, focus groups with teachers and students, and more. 

Here’s some of the feedback that they heard from students about what is going well in the district: 

  • Wide array of course offerings. 
  • Relationships with teachers and staff. 
  • Inclusivity of school communities that affirm students. 

Teachers shared their thoughts about what is going well in the district, including: 

  • Collaboration among teachers. 
  • Student-teacher relationships. 
  • Involvement of community members and parents/guardians. 

Students shared some areas that have room for improvement, including:  

  • Support for Multi-Lingual Learners (MLL) students.  
  • Stress and pressure about grades.  
  • Uneven academic standards and grading. 

Teachers said the district has room for improvement in areas such as: 

  • Support for MLL students. 
  • Support regarding student behavior and social emotional learning. 
  • Two-way communication and input in decisions. 

Topics that district leaders mentioned most frequently during interviews about strategic planning included: disproportionality, systems improvements, social emotional learning supports, academic success, strong relationships, adjusting support structures for a changing district and supports for special education and MLL learners. 

At a work study session on Jan. 12, the School Board heard an update about the work that has occurred so far, and gave feedback about potential priority areas and goals for the plan. The strategic plan creation timeline calls for a draft three-year plan to be ready by March. 

Stay tuned for a video update from Superintendent Tow-Yick, a webpage about the strategic planning work, ways that our community can engage with this process and further discussion at upcoming School Board meetings. 

In the photo, community members and staff who attended the fall Community Forum discuss what they would like to see the district continue doing, stop doing, or start doing in the future.