School trustees want priorities to trickle down to classroom | SierraSun.com

School trustees want priorities to trickle down to classroom

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Just in time for classes, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has begun to identify priorities for a strategic plan that will set goals and establish focus for the future of Truckee and North Tahoe schools.

“We have the potential, and I see the reality, to be one of the best school districts in the state,” said school district Superintendent Dennis Williams. “Continuous quality improvement ” that’s the plan. It’s going to be ongoing work.”

The district’s strategic plan will initially focus on five main topics that range from teacher recruitment and retention to closing the achievement gap among students.

“It helps us so that we have priorities for our funding ” to make sure that every school site has this, that or the other, and a lot of it is just envisioning where we want to be,” said Glenshire Elementary Principal Kathleen Gauthier. “It’s a unified way to help us look forward.”

The district’s first step in developing a strategic plan was to gain community input. Administrators and board members said in order to grow and develop the district, they would first need to know which programs parents support and what they want their children to experience in the classroom.

Education Matters, the platform for that district-community conversation, established a number of classroom and community priorities.

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“Education Matters was a community forum and there are task forces out there to address their priorities, but we have a bigger responsibility and as a board we hold the purse,” said board member Patricia Gibbons-Johnson. “There is a lot of direction from the state and the feds that we have to take into account.”

The district is now looking at what is needed to take action in an timely and economically efficient manner. In doing so, the board members have taken the second step in creating their own set of goals.

“The plan is a communication tool to show that we are listening to the public and what they are asking for by showing them how we are meeting those needs,” said board member Monty Folsom.

“The way we see it impacting students is that it will give direction on curriculum, safe schools and positive learning environments,” he said.

The strategic plan is not a finite document, Williams said, and it will be amended and revised by the board as needed.

“It’s just like anything else,” he said. “You get two or three things done and you want to take on two or three more.”

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board has come up with five focus areas for the district. Over the next few years, the district will focus on developing and improving these areas:

– Student achievement and closing the achievement gap

– Development of district leadership through accountability, support, collaboration and communication

– The recruitment and retention of staff and teachers

– Fiscal accountability and the development of a greater reserves fund.

– Development of a program philosophy with measurable goals around topics such as health, transportation and safety.