School board taking fresh look at system vision, mission

Members iron out proposals in event

By SARALYN NORKUS Banner Staff Writer
Posted 2/17/17

CHATTANOOGA — At the Cleveland Board of Education winter conference, the question that carried the group throughout the day was “Who sets the vision and who promotes the school system — …

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School board taking fresh look at system vision, mission

Members iron out proposals in event

DIRECTOR OF Curriculum and Instruction Jeff Elliott works with BOE chairman Dawn Robinson and other members of his group to pinpoint weaknesses in the school system.
DIRECTOR OF Curriculum and Instruction Jeff Elliott works with BOE chairman Dawn Robinson and other members of his group to pinpoint weaknesses in the school system.
Banner photo, SARALYN NORKUS
Posted

CHATTANOOGA — At the Cleveland Board of Education winter conference, the question that carried the group throughout the day was “Who sets the vision and who promotes the school system — whose responsibility is it?”

At the end of their planning retreat, the BOE and the school system administration had a clear answer to that question, as they worked together to update CCS’s vision and mission statement.

“The goal was to establish our vision and mission as a school district. The point of everyone coming together was to hear from all different sides, and for us to come up with a consensus on what we really think we need to be about as we move forward from this point to where we will get in the future,” explained Director of Cleveland City Schools Dr. Russell Dyer.

“This is one of the most important things we do, because if not done on a frequent basis, you don’t know where you’re going; it’s more shooting in the dark. If you know what your vision and mission truly are, then you can aim towards them and make sure that everyone is on the same page.”

Dr. Tim Fite of Southern Educational Strategies LLC and Dr. Robert Greene led the group through the process Thursday, serving as outside voices to help them organize the multiple ideas and thoughts flowing through the room.

“Cleveland City Schools should be commended on the fact that they are still wanting to improve,” Green said at the beginning of the day.

“You’ve got to know where you are now to decide where you’re going and how to get there — it’s going to take this team to be successful.”

According to the consultants, the responsibility of the BOE is to make sure that every decision is measured in child benefits, and that data-driven decisions are accepted, regardless if the data is good or bad.

“It’s crucial to understand where you are in student performance,” Greene stressed. “You have to deal with the facts, both the good and bad ones.”

Fite then transitioned the group to a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, or SWOT, analysis.

During the SWOT analysis, in-depth discussions were had about the various topics.

The school system’s facilities, faculty leadership, quality of education and competitive salaries were among the most popular strengths. For weaknesses, the room felt that they were over extended and not as focused as they should be due to a large number of initiatives, are falling short in literacy support, especially in the early foundation stage and also felt that many of the schools are overcrowded.

CCS’s efforts at expanding the CTE program into the middle school level was referenced and the BLADE Project, which is intended for “blended learning and digital enhancement,” was acknowledged as a major opportunity.

When it came to threats, the group was most concerned with the unknown factor of the new federal administration and the emphasis on charter and private schools. They were also worried about the loss of teachers due to morale issues stemming from the government.

Having gone over their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the group was ready to begin working on a new vision and mission statement.

Fite reminded them that the enemies of vision include lack of leadership, unwillingness to make changes, not standing behind their system wide initiatives and not holding people accountable.

When crafting their new vision, the BOE and system administrators were encouraged to consider the stakeholders in that vision, which includes the students, employees, community, parents/guardians, advocates, government and higher education.

Creating the new vision and mission statement engulfed the remainder of the planning retreat, as Dyer jokingly told the room that he was locking the doors and no one was leaving until both were completed.

There proved to be no need to ‘lock them in,’ as the group was able to hammer out and agree on a new vision and mission statement.

BOE member Carolyn Ingram enjoyed the group’s “wonderful camaraderie” and was proud that they were able to agree on the new statements.

“It’s great that this many educators could consent on what we were trying to accomplish,” Ingram said.

Both will be looked over by school administrators and reviewed again before they are officially introduced and voted on at the March 6 BOE meeting.

“My goal is to come up with a three-year strategic plan based off the vision and mission statements and also working to establish more specific goals for each department within our school system,” Dyer said.

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