• September 18, 2019

ECISD delves into strategic planning process - Odessa American: ECISD

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ECISD delves into strategic planning process

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Posted: Monday, April 1, 2019 4:53 pm

Ector County Independent School District teachers, students, administrators and board members, along with business, chamber of commerce and community members, hashed out strengths and weaknesses of the district during the first day of strategic planning at the Zant Community Room at Odessa College Monday.

A second day is planned in the same spot for Tuesday. Sheri Sides and Jenny Preston of Strategic Planning for Practitioners in Allen led the retreat.

The process began with the school board and the superintendent. The assistant superintendents, directors and others were added, Preston said.

That group compiled the belief statements and vision and determined categories for the framework, Preston said. That includes issues such as facilities and infrastructure, communications and community partnerships; climate and culture; human resources; and teaching and learning.

About 65 people participated in Monday’s meeting.

“This is the strategic team and they represent both community and school. They are going to work for two days. Their job is then to create the mission, the strategic objectives and the strategies,” Preston said. “Once this group finishes their work at the end of tomorrow, then however many strategies there are that’s how many action teams will be formed. There will be an action team around every strategy. That’s another group of 120 or so people.”

The action teams will be made up of school and community members. The teams may include some of the same people that were on the strategic team, Preston said.

“Those folks will work individually as teams, on their own time. In other words, it’s about a six- hour commitment. They’ll schedule themselves in the evening. They’ll do some of the work electronically, but their commitment’s about six hours,” Preston said.

“Once they finish their work, they’ll have an action plan. They will then come back in a one-day retreat with the (strategic team), the larger group, and they will present their action plans,” she added.

That one-day retreat will likely be in the summer.

The strategic team may say the plan is great, or they may want to tweak it, Preston said.

“Once it’s finished, then the whole plan goes back to the board for their final approval,” she said.

Preston added it will be a three- to five-year plan, depending on the resources the district has and how quickly they accomplish their work. Strategic Planning for Practitioners often will work with districts on their second and third plans, as well.

ECISD is in the midst of a superintendent search.

“The action plans themselves will include action steps to get the work done. But that’s an internal document. You have to have some latitude and some fluidity to it. The legislature meets; things change; you pass a bond; you don’t pass a bond. Different things will occur. The leadership change, however, should not alter the direction of the plan,” Preston said.

“The motion and direction is set and whoever comes in becomes part of that shared vision,” she added.

Participants listed strengths and weaknesses of the district such as its International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs, its fine arts, the teachers who have a heart for students and other items.

The list of weaknesses was longer — everything from teachers having too much on their plates and staffing shortages to having to teach to the state standardized test and dropouts.

Odessa High School senior Natalie Benavides, 18, was one of several student representatives.

“Being a part of the district strategic planning is an amazing opportunity to become a leader and also get a feel of what the professional world is going to be like when it is my time to enter the world,” Benavides said.

She added that because of being part of the strategic planning process, she’ll get that experience.

“Growing up in Odessa, I’ve always known that our district has made the effort to make sure students are successful, but being here has definitely opened my eyes and (helped me) realize that they are doing their doing their best” to reach that goal, Benavides said.

“I am more than grateful for that,” she added.

Alexes Armendariz, an 18-year-old OHS senior, who is in the International Baccalaureate program, said instructional time is lost with students put in the auditorium to watch documentaries because of lack of staff.

“It’s very systematic. It feels like you’re just a number,” Armendariz said.

He also touched on the need to make sure teachers, counselors and administrators are faring because they’re people, too.

Chandler Chesnut, a 17-year-old Permian High School junior, said it’s nice to be able to get a student voice into the process because often teachers don’t take student views into account.

He said he felt like the participants had some good points, but he’d like to see the effort keep going as the community gets larger.

Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard said it’s always easier to think about what’s wrong than what’s right, “because if it’s right, you don’t focus on it. You don’t think about it.”

“I don’t think there was much said today that we haven’t already encountered and thought about as obstacles. … It’s good that we recognize and realize obstacles in a common group like this,” Howard said.

Strategic Planning for Practitioners is being paid $36,000 for their work.

Those who were chosen for the group were administrators, people on the superintendent’s leadership team, departmental leadership and leadership within different departments.

For the campuses, Howard said, they tried to make sure that there were representatives from both large high schools, each of the choice high schools, a middle school on the east side of town, west side of town, an elementary magnet and non-magnet schools.

Different sides of town also were represented, she said.

“As far as students, teachers and parents, we asked the principals and executive directors of secondary and elementary to gather those names for us,” Howard said.

Some community members already knew about the strategic planning process and wanted to join in and then there were key people from the chamber of commerce, business and those who were active in supporting the tax ratification election.

Odessa, TX

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