Bolder visions: What 6 new strategic plans look like online

Almost as important as project and priorities are the increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly ways in which districts are presenting their plans on their websites. 

Almost as important as projects and priorities in the latest round of strategic plans are the increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly ways in which districts are presenting their visions on their websites.

The Poudre School District in Colorado highlights each of its three big goals on its web page.

When it comes to priorities, graduation is no longer the goal in the latest wave of strategic plans. Superintendents and their teams are increasingly expanding their focus to ensuring their graduates find academic and professional success after completing high school. “To empower and inspire our students to achieve academic excellence and make a positive contribution to the world,” is the mission set by Superintendent Lewis Brooks and Shelby County Schools in Alabama.

The visions laid out by K12 leaders in the second half of 2023 also cover school safety, staff development and facilities upgrades, among other major pillars. Here’s what those strategic plans look like online and a few details about the paths charted by district leaders:

Albuquerque Public Schools (New Mexico)

Albuquerque’s plan is mapped out across four clickable categories—goals, rules of the road, strategic priorities and “our work.” Rules of the road lists the rules the district has set for itself, such as providing students with wraparound support, allocating resources equitably and supporting staff through professional development and giving employees a bigger role in decision-making. “Our Work” is a series of stories and photos of student and school and achievements and activities.

Billings Public Schools (Montana)

Four strategic priorities are listed in drop-down menus that lay out Billings’ goals, accompanied by expected outcomes. Under one priority, foster a safe and positive environment, Billings leaders plan to increase parent and family involvement by creating a “Family Friendly School Program.” Among the outcomes the district is striving for are increasing enrollment in dual-credit and AO courses, and raising the number of students who earn career certifications.

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Cedar Rapids Community School District (Iowa)

Cedar Rapids relies on graphics, namely hardhats, to illustrate the four pillars of its plan (see above). Each pillar is linked to a set of “strategic anchors”—for instance, “Energize the Staff” is underpinned by diversity and cultural competence, development and promotion, stable attendance and staff efficacy.

Charles County Public Schools (Maryland)

A “Strategic Plan Data Dashboard” covers Charles County’s three leading priorities: student learning and achievement; access and opportunities; and culture and climate. The district provides the metrics leaders are tracking under each priority. Culture and climate, for example, are being assessed by the number of suspensions and referrals, participation in extracurricular activities, and the completion of school improvement plans, among other data.

Poudre School District (Colorado)

(Poudre School District )
(Poudre School District)

Literacy, mental health and belonging, and graduating with options are the Denver-area district’s three big priorities—and each has its own web page that details projects and goals. Under “Graduate With Options,” the district will update its graduation requirements to better support multiple post-secondary pathways, covering college, the workforce and the military. It will also tackle chronic absenteeism and give middle school principals more time to collaborate around student readiness and grading practices.

Shelby County Schools (Alabama)

Shelby County’s plan is driven by five “commitments”—innovation, community partnerships, leadership development, recruitment and retention, and organizational commitment. That last commitment covers getting buy-in for the strategic plan by communicating goals clearly and fostering a stronger culture of teamwork. The district is also pledging to maintain two-way communications with its stakeholders, provide staff with opportunities for continuous professional growth and prioritize fiscal responsibility.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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