Ramos Updates SOMSD Community on Strategic Plan, Action Teams

by The Village Green
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The following is an email from SOMSD Supt. Dr. John Ramos to the SOMSD community on February 25:

Dear SOMSD Community:

As you know, SOMSD is in the process of developing a Strategic Plan to serve as a blueprint to guide everything we do. This particular strategic planning process has embedded in it action planning, implementation and feedback phases that will help to ensure that the plans developed are realistic, and are implemented thoughtfully and effectively.

Last week, the Board of Education accepted the first component of the Strategic Plan we are in the process of developing – the Strategic Direction.

The Strategic Plan will ultimately have three parts:

Strategic Direction – aspirational document with enduring values, mission statement, strategic boundaries, student performance statement, and strategies. This document serves as the vision or direction to guide the development of the rest of the plan.

Action Plans – implementation steps for each strategy consisting of reasonable pieces of work that move us towards the mission.

Implementation Schedule – annual implementation plans which identify action items to pursue based on resources and priorities. Budgets, timelines, and assignments are developed as part of this process. The implementation plan will be updated every year.

Why do we need a new strategic plan? Really, there are three main reasons:

Our educational system was designed for the industrial era, and the skills it prioritizes are no longer those most prized by employers today. We have an obligation to provide our students with the skills, content knowledge and experiences which they need to be able to succeed in this new era.

SOMSD is, by many metrics, a very good school system. Yet we have pernicious achievement gaps and uneven rigor. We need to make sure we are challenging our highest achievers and supporting all students in maximizing their potential.
When I was hired, one thing I heard repeatedly was that SOMSD had suffered over time from “initiative-itis” – moving from one great new idea to the next, without any grounding in a long-term strategic plan. One point of discussion with the board during the hiring process was the importance of thinking more strategically, so that we can act purposefully rather than reactively. A strategic plan will give us a roadmap for the future, so that we can stay on course, and not get distracted by either good or bad occurrences.

The development of the Strategic Plan is an organic, evolutionary, collaborative process, founded in months of input from students, parents, teachers, administrators and other community members. My first priority upon becoming your superintendent was to do a listening tour – to hear directly from students, staff, and families about what is working in SOMSD, what areas need attention, and what ideas the community has for the future. This culminated in the Education Summit, where 1,500 community members spent an evening together imagining what our schools’ future might look like, and what it would take to get there.

The data collected through the Listening Tour, Education Summit, math KIVA, student forums, Let’s Talk, and other interactions infuses the strategic planning process on which we are embarked. These experiences are best summed up in the data synthesis from the Education Summit calling for a: “Paradigm shift from fitting students and families into currently established structures and systems to structuring programs, services, outreach and communications to meet the needs of students and families.”

All of this work led to the development of the Strategic Direction, which we have shared with the community over the past few weeks. Now that the Board of Education has accepted the Strategic Direction document and approved the continuation of the Strategic Planning process, we move on to the Action Planning phase.

Action Planning teams will include at least one teacher, administrator, parent and student, and represent diverse viewpoints and expertise. Each committee has 2 co-chairs – one member of the Strategic Direction Committee and one with expertise in the area. We received more than 180 applications to participate on action planning teams, and also invited nominations from key partner organizations, and recruited people with specific expertise. We had so many qualified volunteers that we expanded the size of teams from the original plan of 5-7 members each, to 12 members each.

Team members were selected by administrators based on qualifications, how they best aligned with specific strategies, and to balance perspectives and experience. Names of applicants who were not placed on a team will be shared with team co-chairs, as potential experts or volunteers should they require additional assistance. The current teams are listed on our website: https://tinyurl.com/ActionPlanningTeams.

Action planning teams will meet regularly over the next 5 months to create specific, concrete plans for each strategy, consisting of reasonable pieces of work that move us towards the mission. Teams will receive all of the notes from the Education Summit and ensuing dialogues, student forum, Math KIVA and from the small working groups in the Strategic Direction Committee, as well as national and regional research and examples, to serve as the foundation for their work. Teams can invite outside experts and key staff members to participate in meetings, and can make site visits.

I am excited to see the work of the Action Planning Teams. I look forward to working with you to build a system that will empower today’s learners, and provide all students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college and careers, and to proactively navigate the challenges they will inherit.

Sincerely,

John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D.

Anticipated Timeline
Action Planning Team Training February 2016
Board of Education February – March 2016
Action Planning Teams Work February 2016 – August 2016
Action Plans Presented to Strategic Direction Committee September 2016
Full Strategic Plan (Strategic Direction and Completed Action Plans) Presented To Board of Education for Review October 2016
Strategic Plan Shared with Community October 2016
Strategic Plan Submitted to Board of Education for Approval November 2016
Implementation Schedule Developed by Administration November 2016 – January 2017
2017-2018 Budget Aligned to Implementation Schedule January – March 2017
2017-2017 Budget Approved by Board of Education March 2017
Year One Implementation Begins September 2017

 

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