The Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District has adopted a comprehensive strategic plan based on seven key areas on which the district will focus for the next five years.
The seven broad areas of focus include communication; student reading and writing; school, family and community partnerships; career/technical education; equity for all students; student safety; and fiscal accountability. The topics were distilled from community input provided at 13 focus group meetings held throughout the community which drew more than 500 local residents, parents, staff members, business and community leaders. With Governing Board input, the issues introduced at the meetings were combined into the seven broad categories adopted at the August 16 meeting.
A small committee of staff members then wrote action plans for each general area to assist the district in meeting the broader goals. The plan’s first goal statement is to “communicate substantive, current district and school information to all stakeholders.” The full plan calls for creation of a study team to assess the effectiveness of each site’s communication systems and help each site develop systems and protocols to proactively communicate with students, parents, staff and community.
The study team also will be called upon to assess and develop the district communications systems, with district and school plans to be reviewed on a regular basis. Each site is to develop baseline expectations for communications systems that will include effective internal communication between administration and staff, two-way communication between the school and its stakeholders, and a specific focus on enhancing customer service from the school to all of its clients.
The second broad goal calls for the district’s instructional program to emphasize rigor in reading and writing in all content areas. In order to accomplish the goal, the action plans calls for all teachers to teach and reinforce reading and writing skills as part of all subject areas. The benchmark writing test is to be expanded to include ninth grade, and all staff will be trained in reading and writing strategies aligned to standards the state has set for curriculum content. Hart District schools will meet with their feeder elementary schools at least once yearly to coordinate expectations in writing and reading and to maintain depth and rigor in both studies. Schools will select instructional programs to teach reading and writing strategies throughout the school day.
The third major goal—to forge productive partnerships between schools, family, and the community—calls for implementation of plans developed by Action Team Partnership at each district school. A key goal is to “create a welcoming environment for all families and students at all sites,” according to the strategic plan. The plan also calls for each school to provide parent education opportunities so parents can better support their student’s learning. Each school also will collect feedback from families on a yearly basis to determine the effectiveness of home/school connections.
The fourth major goal calls for the district to create career/technical education opportunities to increase students’ successful transition to the workforce/workplace. The goal specifically addresses such issues as vocational programs, mentors and apprenticeships. It also calls for programs which will help students understand the relevance of their studies to the work skills, values and environment they will encounter when they leave school.
The district will develop and implement a district plan for career/technical education in collaboration with the School & Business Alliance. The plan must provide for a quality and relevant school-based learning program that integrates workplace skills into the curriculum. Focus also is placed on work-based learning, transition-to-work programs, and collaboration with the district’s Regional Occupational Program and College of the Canyons. The fifth broad goal calls for the Hart district to establish “an environment in which everyone is valued and treated with dignity and respect and where all students are afforded equal educational and extracurricular opportunities.”
The plan calls for the district to develop and implement a Diversity Action Plan and to develop and implement district policies and practices to support equitable access to educational and extracurricular opportunities regardless of a student’s ability to pay. It also addresses the need to develop alternative methods to provide equity and access to education for all students. The district is urged to support programs aimed at narrowing the achievement gap between various groups of students.
The strategic plan also calls for increased class offerings and enrollments in Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) or similar programs which encourage all students to pursue a four-year college education—especially those from low income families and those who parents did not attend college. The section on health and safety, added at Governing Board request, addresses the need to develop and put into effect emergency preparedness/disaster plans on each campus, and regulations that reflect concern for health and safety. Policies on nutrition and physical exercise are specifically addressed in the plan.
The final section deals with fiscal stability and accountability at all levels within the district. Specifically, the plan calls for monitoring financial decisions to ensure that they reflect district priorities and implementing a system of checks and balances that will ensure fiscal responsibility and accountability. “The strategic plan is the foundation which provides the district with a ‘road map’ for the future,” Superintendent Jaime Castellanos told the District Governing Board in presenting the finished plan for approval. The district has been working since January 2006 to come up with areas of focus for the district, a set of measurable objectives, and tools to evaluate the district’s effectiveness in meeting the goals over the coming years.
The strategic plan is in line with the district’s Mission Statement and Core Values, which have been in place since 1993. The Board also acted to revise the Positive Relationships statement in the district’s Values statement to reflect the importance of family relationships.
That statement now reads: “We recognize that our students’ families have entrusted us to assist them in the education of their children and that we must respect and help strengthen their individual family relationships. We further recognize that cooperation, collaboration, communication and mutual respect among students, families, the community, staff members, and the governing board build the connections necessary for success. These relationships create understanding and allow all partners to be involved.”