Sabrina Thompson, The Observer

LA GRANDE SCHOOL DISTRICT STRATEGIC PLAN: GOALS, INDICATORS AND ACTIONS

These are the goals indicators and some of the planned actions and activities the district has established.

Goal 1: Ensure all students are ready to learn

This goal focused on creating an environment where students come to school eager and willing to learn. This meant establishing Culture of Care strategies that focus on students’ physical and emotional well-being, working to increase attendance rates, having an updated and strong safety plan in place, and working toward early education and learning experiences.

To achieve the first indicator of this goal, creating and maintaining a Culture of Care at the schools, the district attempted to hire a new counselor, but no one took the position. The district also made counselors more accessible to students by having three new Physical Education teachers take on the lessons that the counselors previously during a teacher’s prep time.

To achieve the second indicator, improving attendance rates, the district has taken steps toward educating students and parents about the importance of attendance through posters and positive messaging.

To achieve the third indicator, ensuring school safety, the district has been working to improve relationships with emergency services, including participating in the mass casualty incident training that occurred Aug. 12, and additional training for all faculty and staff, from teachers to janitors. The district has also developed a new Emergency Operations Plan that outlines what should happen during any type of emergency.

The final indicator for this goal, increasing early learning opportunities, has already been achieved through every school establishing a Jump Start program. This program allowed 10 to 20 kindergarten students to come in two weeks before the start of school to work with a teacher and an aid to get ready for kindergarten, working on literacy and behavioral problems that can happen with the transition into school.

Goal 2: Foster increased academic success

This goal focuses on getting students to graduation with success along the way. This includes setting up freshmen to start their high school careers on track, working to be above the state average on standardized testing in English language arts and math assessments, and increasing the completion rate for graduating seniors to 98%.

The first indicator of this goal, setting up freshmen for success, is looking into programs in other schools and districts that have shown progress in this area. The district is considering setting up an AVID program, which helps students who present the need for additional instruction and academic guidance.

The second indicator, which focuses on standardized testing, is about analyzing the current performance of students and determining where they can be better assisted in learning and test taking.

The final indicator for this goal, increasing the graduation rate, has teachers and administrators establishing better interventions for students who are struggling with attendance and investigate what could be the cause of students who are chronically absent.

Goal 3: Develop engaged life-long learners

The third goal for the district is preparing students for life after high school, while also keeping them engaged in their education. Through a commitment to community service at all age levels, school activities and clubs, stronger community partnerships and better financial literacy and job skills, the district aims to help students ready themselves for their future.

The first indicator for this goal, increasing students’ community service and extracurricular participation, will be achieved through helping schools create more opportunities for involvement. The hope is that students who are involved in their communities and in activities that interest them will be more engaged with school and will look back fondly on their education.

The second indicator, establishing a better relationship with the community, calls for collecting data from schools on their present involvement, in addition to consistent messaging across all platforms.

The final indicator for this goal, which focuses on teaching students financial literacy and job skills. includes providing “real world” experiences like counting change, the importance of showing up on time and the value of money. Lessons like how to pay taxes, balance a checkbook and take out and manage a loan are among the lessons the district hopes can be implemented, though further research on when and how still needs to be done.

— La Grande School District Strategic Plan

The La Grande School District has officially begun its school year, and this time it is with a new strategic plan in place. Adopted in August, this plan will help focus the goals, vision and mission of the school district as it aims to ensure student success.

Work to formulate the district’s strategic plan began last fall when a committee of community members — including administration, parents, students, county commissioners and representatives of local businesses and organizations — came together to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement to formulate new mission and vision statements based on core values and to set goals to connect them all, according to LGSD Superintendent George Mendoza.

He said the committee first determined the values that all employees of the LGSD should have: safety and caring; social, emotional and individual well-being; relationships; and real world education. To members of the community it mattered most that when sending students to school they, and those teaching them, are safe and well cared for and have their well-being considered, and that students are being taught things that will help them beyond their formal education.

Additionally, as part of the goal of establishing strong relationships. there was a call from the commitee for the district to improve its efforts on communicating to the public both online and in person about what is going on inside the schools.

Mendoza said he is excited that these goals and this plan will provide a clear vision for the district, and that it will increase transparency.

“I don’t want what we are doing to be a mystery,” Mendoza said.

Once the core values were agreed upon, the committee spent hours coming up with the mission statement and vision statement for the schools to adopt.

The mission statement is: “Empower La Grande’s learners to learn, staff to thrive and our community to prosper.” Mendoza said the committee’s goal in creating this statement was to make the core values a key part of the district’s mission.

The vision statement is what the committee felt best described the district’s outlook on the future of its students: “Preparing all La Grande students for their brightest future!” Mendoza said this statement and the inclusion of the word “all” helps define the district’s effort toward achieving better accessibility and equity for each and every student.

The committee’s next task was to identify three goals for the district to reach by the end of 2024. The goals are: ensuring all students are ready to learn, fostering increased academic success, and developing engaged life-long learners. For each goal, indicators are identified — key issues to be addressed — along with ways to implement and measure the goal’s progress.

Some of the goals encompass already established activities and actions. With others it is a matter of still collecting information to see what level of work needs to be done.

“We are still finding out what we need to know,” Mendoza said. “We are still gathering data. This is a baseline year.”

While developing its strategic plan, LGSD looked to other schools and districts to see what is working and what is not, and it will continue to seek feedback from the community on how the district is doing at working toward the goals that have been set out.

“I want it to be like a machine to monitor and support our staff and students and the community in moving forward,” Mendoza said.

Developing some of these programs and activities will take additional funding for the district, which Mendoza said can be achieved through grants and new legislation that has been passed.

“The Student Success Act and Measure 98 are going to be a big reason why things get funded,” Mendoza said.

The Student Success Act dedicates a new business tax that will give money to early learning and K-12 schools and is dedicated to educational programs. Measure 98 gives state funding for drop-out prevention and career and college readiness programs.

Mendoza said the two main focuses for those involved in the process of developing and implementing this new strategic plan was supporting student success, and keeping the community informed about what the schools are doing and why.

“I like it when people have a pathway to accomplish the goals,” Mendoza said. “It takes a lot of energy to get us all moving together, and it is great when we are all on the same page.”

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