Weston schools undertake strategic planning process

According to a press release issued by the Weston school district this week, the district, with significant input from the community, is in the midst of the process of strategic planning.

Looking five years and more into the future, the plan seeks to anticipate the challenges and opportunities facing Weston students, staff, and community as a whole.

The primary goals of implementing a strategic plan are to:

• Continually improve the quality of education for every Weston student;

• Maximize use of limited resources and spend tax dollars wisely;

• Identify and address future challenges and opportunities in a timely, proactive fashion; and

• Strengthen the partnership between the schools and the community.

Since the fall of 2010, education consultant John Starr has coordinated the strategic planning process, beginning with a series of interviews of 35 diverse community members and district staff.

Based on these interviews and other information gathered, a comprehensive report was issued. This Evaluation Study Report includes an implicit theory of action that was published in The Weston Forum last fall.

In a further effort to bring wider public input to bear on the planning process, the greater Weston community was invited to participate in an online survey that concluded with the question, “What have we missed?”

Within a few months of her summer 2011 arrival, Superintendent Colleen Palmer was charged by the Weston school board to continue the formal planning process.

Under the co-direction of Ellen Uzenoff, board vice-chairman, and Dr. Palmer, a Steering Committee of 21 education professionals and Weston community members was created. This committee has been working collaboratively this year with an additional 27 community and school representatives (including four students) to address how Weston schools will prepare for the challenges of the future.

Since February of this year, four subcommittees, composed of educators, community members and students, have been meeting independently to address major areas of concern that were identified in the Evaluation Study Report.

These areas, broadly categorized, include:

• Teaching and Learning

• Communications and Community

• Student Needs

• Finance and Resources

Preliminary reports, including specific goals and strategies for each of the four above areas, will be further refined and eventually assimilated into a master report on strategic planning to be submitted to the Board of Education for its consideration this fall.

At that time, the strategic planning process will have incorporated most, if not all, of the concerns expressed by students, parents, staff and community, the school press release said.

“Primary among those concerns are the need to adjust to a world of changing technology, to continually enhance the quality of education provided every child in Weston while maintaining fiscal discipline, to address the impact of declining enrollment, and other issues critical to the future of the Weston schools and the town,” the release said.

Ms. Uzenoff said, “This current collaborative process recalls and builds upon the strategic planning process that took place in 2002. With a comprehensive plan in place, the district is poised to meet the challenges of the future.”

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