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posted: 1/22/2013 2:26 PM

Rafferty: Dist. 54 community committee maps future for students

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In sports, it is called a game plan. The construction industry uses a blueprint. Business refers to it as a strategic plan. In School District 54, our Mission, Vision, Commitments and Goals outline the action plan we follow.

A 40-member committee comprised of parents, teachers, support staff and administrators has been meeting during the past several months to update District 54's current Mission, Vision, Commitments and Goals. Their charge is to review the current plan, evaluate how the district is performing and set student learning goals that will guide our work.

A Mission defines the fundamental purpose of an organization which, in our case, is every student learning at a high level. After careful consideration, the committee recommended to keep our current mission "Ensuring Student Success."

The next step in the process involved the team taking an in-depth look at District 54's Vision. The revised Vision further supports the district's commitment to continuous improvement and clearly delineates areas we will focus on over the next three to five years.

It goes without saying that student learning will continue to be our primary focus. To excel in a global society, our students will be working toward meeting college- and career-ready standards. They will be expected to set, monitor and surpass rigorous individual goals; take greater ownership of their learning; and actively participate in interventions and enrichment opportunities that are provided in each of our 27 schools.

Our students will be challenged to strengthen their critical and creative thinking through inquiry-based learning activities. Service-learning projects will be expanded. Treating everyone with courtesy, dignity and respect; demonstrating ethical and responsible behavior; and embracing the value of diversity will continue to be part of our routine practice.

To ensure that students meet or exceed grade-level standards, our staff will continue to learn about and incorporate the most up-to-date research-based curriculum, assessments and instructional strategies into their daily teaching.

The Professional Learning Community framework will be the foundation for the way our district operates. By having teachers and support staff collaborate in planning lessons, analyze student data and tailor instruction to meet the needs of individual needs of their students, we expect our students will attain even higher levels of success over the next several years.

Sustaining effective partnerships with our families and the community will be a top priority in District 54. Fostering open communication, promoting understanding and respect for the different cultures living in our community, and building upon the strong relationships we have with our families will allow us to better support and prepare our students to be successful in high school and beyond. We are looking to expand the number of business and community partnerships and increase the use of community volunteers in our schools.

Equally important is our commitment to operate in a fiscally responsible manner. Maintaining a balanced operating budget allows the district to maximize financial resources to strengthen and enhance the learning opportunities that are provided.

We will be seeking your input prior to bringing the final recommendation to our Board of Education. Your feedback is extremely important in helping to keep District 54 a great place for our 14,000 students to learn and grow.