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Hernando County school district unveils five-year strategic plan

BROOKSVILLE — The document that will help guide the Hernando County school system's strategic mission for the next five years boasts numerous changes from previous years.

But it's not hard to notice one of the most substantial:

It's a whole lot smaller. More than 100 pages smaller, in fact.

A draft copy of the 2012-17 plan, set to be discussed by the School Board on Dec. 11, comes in at a mere 20 pages. The 2009 plan? A hefty 132 pages.

The reduction is deliberate.

"The idea is that this is a real strategic plan that people can read and follow, as compared to one that will sit up on a bookshelf somewhere," said superintendent Bryan Blavatt.

Eric Williams, the district's director of school improvement, called the plan much more friendly and accessible.

It has been in the works since August 2011.

"I really think this is going to serve as a road map for us moving forward and being successful," said Williams, who heads the steering committee that was in charge of making the document.

Blavatt agreed.

"I think this is a great document," he said.

The district's most recent plan was only supposed to last for a year.

This one will introduce a number of dramatic changes:

• While the district has previously listed its objectives, it hasn't actually collected data and tied the findings to those measures.

In this plan, each objective will have a scorecard. Every year, it will be updated and brought back to the School Board in a workshop to show where the district is at and how it's moving toward its goals.

"That has typically been a weakness of ours, from my perspective," Williams said. "We are not very good at evaluating our effectiveness. We have all sorts of measures out there, but we never take the time to slow down and stop and say, 'Here's what our goal was.' "

Objectives range from closing academic proficiency gaps between low-performing and high-performing student populations and schools to increasing access to technology.

• The district formerly drew up strategic plans on an annual basis, often changing its goals. This one will be longer range. Most school districts have multi-year strategic plans, Williams said.

• The published plan won't include an action plan detailing how groups are supposed to reach their goals. The means will be left up to managers. At Blavatt's instruction, the committee struck those from the plan, shortening it up and making it more accessible, Williams said.

"Basically, the departments can develop their own methods and action plans," he said.

The need for a new strategic plan came out of a review by an accrediting organization, which found the district's lacking.

The group indicated the district needed better long-range plans, among other things, Williams said.

The plan doesn't come with any punitive measures. But unlike previous ones, the new one requires all new School Board agenda items to correspond to some of the focus areas identified in the document, giving it added relevance.

"It's basically just us putting in some ways to make sure everything we're doing is tied to the strategic plan," he said.

Williams said he is proud of everyone's work.

"I really do think this is going to be a significant improvement," he said.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. Tweet him @HernandoTimes.

>> Fast Facts

District goals for 2012-2017

Here are the strategic focus areas in the Hernando school district's proposed five-year strategic plan:

• Fostering a culture of trust and appreciation to cultivate a shared sense of purpose and collaboration amongst all stakeholders.

• Preparing all students for success in college and careers.

• Focusing on developing all students' literacy and numeracy proficiencies and emotional wellbeing through consistent use of evidence-based instructional practices.

• Closing academic proficiency gaps between low-performing and high-performing student populations and schools.

• Improving timeliness, frequency, distribution and quality of communications between district departments, schools, parents and other community stakeholders.

• Supporting consistent use of student assessment data to drive and differentiate instruction that addresses all Hernando County students' particular needs.

• Providing equitable funding and resources to maintain quality programs and services that support increased success for all students and school improvements.

• Increasing access to state-of-the-art technologies.

• Building capacity for increasing success for all students and school improvement by supporting ongoing, job-embedded professional development programs for all employees.

• Increasing opportunities for students to earn college credit, earn industry certifications and train for careers while in school.

• Developing and improving comprehensive early warning systems that work proactively to identify and provide supports for students at risk for poor performance, failure or dropping out of school.

• Soliciting and evaluating input and support from a diverse range of relevant stakeholders prior to implementing new programs and continuing existing programs.

• Improving processes and procedures to further define expectations, increase efficiency, support consistency in approaches and avoid duplication of efforts.

• Initiating new community partnerships that support school improvements and success for all students, including adult learners.

• Maintaining safe, secure and energy-efficient operations.

Hernando County school district unveils five-year strategic plan 11/23/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 23, 2012 7:35pm]
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