Vision update

Andraea Aguilera

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On Dec. 18, the school board officially adopted the Vision 2023 Strategic Plan, a five year plan committed to ensuring that all students have access to the instruction, facilities, services, and technology needed to form a district where innovation leads to excellence.
Beginning in August of 2017, 182 students, educators, parents, and community members invested 3,487 hours in the planning process. Representatives include seniors Dania Rahal and Okla Ben Smith as well as Spanish teacher Laura Smith, who served as part of the main committee. The committee encouraged students to reflect on their experiences in the school system in order to get ideas on how to further increase the rate of student success.
“Going into this, I didn’t really know what strategic planning was, so I was kind of intimidated. Everyone was super receptive and encouraging. They wanted to hear what the students had to say since we were in the education system most recently. I got to reflect on some changes I wish to see,” Rahal said.
After the adoption of the plan, the committee hired a Texas-based firm to rate each school based on their facilities, which included HVAC, electricity, and plumbing. The committee presented the results to the school board which in turn created a Citizens Committee to prioritize the needs identified through the planning process and facilities assessment. After several meetings, the committee decides final recommendations to the Board of Education in February.
“Southside was one of the buildings that needs the most help. We have not had any major renovations in so long so our gym and cafeteria are being looked at. We need more classroom space. Our school also graded low on stuff that you can’t see. Students at our school understand that our air conditioning and heating is not always perfect and our plumbing is not always perfect. It’s still the best place in the world to be, but we do need to make upgrades and the Vision is supposed to be seeing that it gets done,” assistant principal Travis Biggs said.
For full details on what the Vision 2023 Strategic Plan entails, visit the Fort Smith Schools website and click on Vision 2023 Strategic Plan Summary.
“This is a fantastic undertaking that is going to breathe new life into our district and hopefully our community as well. I’m excited to be part of it and I’m excited to see where it takes us, not just in the five years but past that into the future as well,” Laura Smith said.
Members divided into groups and brainstormed what they believed they valued the most. Then all groups congregated in the main room and organize similarities and differences. A final revision group shortened the list, and the revision process would cycle again until the final drafts were made.
“I did not actually get to work in a small group for the mission statement because I volunteered to be on the first revision group for the belief statements, but it was essentially the same process for both of them” senior Dania Rahal said.
Members of the Strategic Planning Committee accomplished a set of beliefs, a mission, objectives, parameters and strategies over three meetings in August. The next scheduled meeting on Sept. 18.

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Vision update