Plan lays out new philosophy, definition of success in District 44
Educators and administrators in Lombard Elementary District 44 have finished most of the work of creating a new strategic plan that spells out a district philosophy and offers a new way to measure success.
Now all that's left is to seek public input about the plan during a meeting Feb. 26 and prioritize listed initiatives to determine which should be undertaken first, administrators say.
A group of 44 district workers and community members representing all eight schools met several times since September to develop the draft of the plan, called Connect 44, and to brainstorm initiatives under four strategic goals. During the next five years, starting in the fall, the plan calls for a focus on:
• Student wellness and growth;
• Family and community engagement;
• Professional growth and commitment;
• and financial stewardship, facilities and technology.
The goals fall under a philosophy and core values instead of a mission and vision.
"The philosophy statement of, 'We're all in this together,' truly signifies what we're about," Superintendent Ted Stec said. "The reason why it's the Connect 44 plan is this is all about connecting people, and that's really driving all our decisions."
As the district prepares for a 7 p.m. PTA council meeting Feb. 26 at the John Schroder Early Childhood Center, 1519 Grace St., administrators say they most want public feedback about two aspects of the plan: the initiatives listed to work toward each goal and the measurements that should be used to define student success by factors other than standardized tests.
"This idea of test scores not being the only measurement tool to define success is not a new concept," said Jenn Nimke, director of communications and strategic planning. "But it's a difficult challenge for many school districts to determine these other tools, these other indicators that we should be looking at."
Proposed success indicators include surveys of student engagement and parent and staff satisfaction; results of the Illinois 5 Essentials Survey; attendance by students, staff, parents and community members at school events; development of community partnerships; student participation in school teams and clubs; student and staff leadership opportunities; behavioral and discipline referrals; and home visits to student families by staff members.
Administrators plan to seek opinions on the measures and select the best ones before developing new surveys to be given to students, parents and staff members.
"We hope this is the beginning of a long-term conversation of continually going back and providing a full picture of how our students are succeeding," Nimke said.
The district also wants to ensure stakeholders are satisfied with the initiatives planned to achieve each of the four strategic goals.
Among these are work to create principal-led student advisory groups and a student-led goal-setting process.
"We want to bring our students into our decision-making," Nimke said. "It's a powerful way to allow them to build on their own leadership skills."
Another key initiative is supporting kids' social and emotional development, which Stec said the district will do by establishing a family-like environment.
"What we learned through this process is if the kids don't feel safe emotionally and if they don't feel connected to their school or their teacher, learning can't take place," Stec said.
Outside of the student wellness and growth category, the district plans to create an outreach plan for older adults, identify opportunities for more staff collaboration and plan for expansion of Glenn Westlake Middle School.
After the Feb. 26 public meeting, the strategic plan is set for school board discussion in April.