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Weston school board OKs strategic plan

Weston Public SchoolsThe Board of Education has a vision for what Weston Public Schools should look like in 2015.

That vision has been articulated in the school board’s three-year strategic plan, which it approved earlier this fall. “This is a great blueprint for bringing the school system forward, and [it] puts everything into one document,” said Phil Schaefer, school board chairman.

The plan has four areas of focus: teaching and learning; student needs; communication and community outreach; and resources, operations and finance.

According to the plan’s executive summary, the district intends to build on its strengths and address challenges that exist in the current educational and economic context in order to continue to provide an “exemplary K-12 educational experience for the Weston community.”

The plan’s formation was overseen by the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, which was charged with identifying goals and developing an action plan to guide the future work of the district. The committee was assisted by a professional consultant.

For each key area of focus of the plan there are goals, strategies, tactics, and tasks.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning relates to what happens in the classrooms, what things are taught and how, and how to increase staff effectiveness.

One of the key goals is to create a culture where professional growth and intellectual risk-taking are valued and nurtured through professional learning.

Teaching and learning strategic plan tactics include:

• Creating a professional development plan to address adult learning needs, empowering teachers to further their professional growth.

• Developing a comprehensive professional development calendar for all staff.

• Enhancing and strengthening a new teacher development program to promote the retention of new hires.

• Integrating student outcomes from the AIM (Academic Innovation and Measurement ) 21st Century Student Outcomes Matrix into units of instruction, including an assessment framework that measures student mastery of AIM.

• Expanding opportunities for students to explore academic interests and career opportunities.

• Embedding real-world applications in instruction.

• Utilizing data teams at each school to determine what students are in need of intervention and place students in Scientific Research-Based Intervention (SRBI) groupings based on assessment data.

Student needs

Student needs are based on how the district supports student success by creating a safe and nurturing learning environment as well as enriching experiences to develop responsible, confident and self-directed students.

One of the key goals is to provide opportunities for students to form meaningful connections with staff and other students.

Student needs strategic plan tactics include:

• Implementing the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program in all schools districtwide to provide a tiered support for socio-emotional growth.

  • Developing, refining and implementing proactive educational programs that promote physical and emotional wellness.
  • Reviewing and refining the bullying prevention policy and its implementation in each school building.
  • Exploring the use of programs at all grade levels to enhance student-to-student and student-to-staff connections.
  • Developing new programs and sustaining existing successful programs to provide students with leadership opportunities.
  • Strengthening and expanding opportunities for students to have their voices heard.
  • Expanding opportunities for students to explore academic interests and career options.

Communication

The district would like to strengthen communication with students, parents, staff, and citizens.

To that end, a key goal is to develop a comprehensive plan to promote two-way communications in the district by collecting information from stakeholders and providing them with information about all aspects of the Weston school district.

Strategic plan tactics for communication and community outreach include:

  • Creating avenues of feedback that would provide a confidential option to encourage people to come forward with new ideas, suggestions or criticisms.
  • Fostering input from students regarding their opinions and needs.
  • Promoting opportunities for parents to interact with administration and staff.
  • Creating a centralized communication calendar to keep staff, students, parents, and community members informed and involved.
  • Inviting volunteers from the community to share time and talent.
  • Leveraging opportunities for the community to access school facilities.

Resources, operations

The district would like to capitalize on the most effective and efficient business practices, preserving quality, but also minimizing costs and exploring opportunities for revenue generation.

A key goal is to obtain sustainable funding and appropriate resources to provide exemplary academic programs that also maximize value to the community.

Strategic plan tactics for resources, operations, and finance include:

  • Exploring and developing alternative school configurations based on enrollment projections, and academic and co-curricular programs.
  • Coordinating a plan with the town to optimize available school space for town services.
  • Identifying, evaluating and implementing viable net revenue opportunities that are consistent with the district’s mission and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and school board policies.
  • Providing the best available technology that is financially reasonable to support administrative operational effectiveness.
  • Exploring and implementing best practices for budget development and for the care and maintenance of facilities and grounds.
  • Expanding opportunities for all stakeholders to be engaged in the budget process.
  • Establishing a reputation as one of the most desirable school systems in New England in order to attract the most highly qualified candidates from top education programs across the country.
  • Procuring high-quality goods, services and equipment at the lowest possible cost.
  • Collaborating with town officials and other regional school districts to reduce expenses.

While the new strategic plan will expire in three years, the board’s last strategic plan was adopted in 2002 and was in place for seven years. The shorter term will allow the school board to more quickly assess how the plan is progressing.

“Some of the things in the plan we have already been doing, but it’s good to have everything spelled out,” Mr. Schaefer said.

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