Record-level academic successes amid nationally-watched cultural debates have been on display in recent years in Williamson County Schools. Many of the classroom achievements originated from priorities set in 2017 with the school district’s seven-year plan.
Now, the next long-term strategy is being created.
And, the public as well as educators and students are again being asked to help create a five-year district plan. The next and final community input session is 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 at Mill Creek Middle School.
“A lot of those goals drove the work we’ve been doing over the last few years,” said district superintendent Jason Golden. “We had a great plan.”
Still, few could anticipate a pandemic mixed with sometimes-intense cultural divides. Williamson County Schools didn’t.
Golden mentioned areas that would be a priority going forward.
“Unlike our strategic plan in 2017, when we talk strategically next, issues of diversity are going to be discussed more from the community,” Golden said in a 2021 interview. “If you look at our current strategic plan, there’s no mention of (diversity and inclusion).”
More:‘A county divided’: Williamson County Schools diversity and inclusion consultants share report
Local education leaders intend to amplify what’s worked, remedy what hasn’t and forecast future needs. Consultants from Lipscomb University are supporting the process.
Throughout February, district leaders and consultants talked with parents, students, educators and citizens about their visions, including a public input meeting earlier this month at Franklin High School. The meeting is one of five that were scheduled at various schools.
“The hope is we are going to get from you some key elements that will help us in the next two or three months, set some goals for where we are going to be over the next five years,” said Golden to attendees.
What happens at meetings?
Hope Nordstrom, an associate education professor, and Laura Encalade, an assistant professor of public policy — both at Lipscomb — spoke to attendees Feb. 14 in Franklin. They explained the strategic planning process for the district, including SOAR analysis that covers strengths and opportunities in an organization as well as future aspirations and results. SOAR stands for “strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results.”
Attendees then broke into groups and discussed what’s working and what needs to be improved.
What’s the approach?
Nordstrom and Encalade explained the multi-point approach they planned for organizing the long-term plan, which included:
- Provide robust opportunities for stakeholder engagement and community input.
- Utilize a multi-layered approach, including convening a Strategic Plan Steering Committee and meetings with the Leadership Team throughout the development process.
- Build on what’s working by utilizing a similar structure for the new plan and by gathering input on the things that are working well.
What’s the timeline?
Public input gathering continues next month. The plan also includes meeting with the district administrators, teachers, parent organizations and board members throughout March.
The district leadership team and strategic planning steering committee will analyze feedback and develop priorities.
The steering committee will develop final priorities and goals. Then, Golden will present the proposed plan to the school board to begin for the 2023-2024 school year.
For more information about the previous even-year plan, including the list of priorities, go to the Williamson County Schools website.