TISD committee, community members set course, vision to rise above status quo

Published on Monday, 17 March 2014 22:19 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA eguevara@tylerpaper.com

The future for Tyler ISD could include a specialized middle school for fine arts, pre-K opportunities districtwide and district-defined character education, among other endeavors.

These outcomes were among the results outlined in the district’s proposed strategic plan.

TISD administrator Kim Tunnell unveiled the proposal for the district during the board workshop on Monday.

The proposed plan includes a list of beliefs, objectives, strategies and result statements. The board is scheduled to vote on it along with a new district mission statement and plan parameters during the March 27 meeting.

“The goal of this process is to take us from the status quo, from maintaining,” said Ms. Tunnell, TISD’s chief leadership and performance officer.

The plan is the result of about seven months of work by more than 100 people including district personnel and community members.

The overall strategic planning committee comprises 30 members, 15 TISD employees and 15 community members. More than 70 people participated in action teams that also worked on the plan.

In addition to the work TISD did with the community members through the strategic planning committee and action teams, more than 1,700 people participated in the survey.

This survey helped frame the issues the committee focused on and how much importance to place on each such as school climate, district staffing and skill development.

Committee members Dorothy Franks, David Stein and Gloria Bell addressed the board. Ms. Franks provided an overview of the process.

Ms. Franks said participants were instructed to leave their ideas at the door and remove any limitations they might be placing on their ideas.

Stein said it was not a majority rules situation, but all 30 strategic planning committee members approved the plan as presented. Ms. Bell reiterated this idea.

“We all worked really hard to make sure we didn’t have a personal agenda and put those things aside,” said Ms. Bell, TISD’s Head Start director. “We began to focus on every child in our district. Once we began to hear the perspectives for every child in our group, the focus was totally on the students and what was best for the students of TISD.”

The committee came up with a set of 11 core beliefs that addressed the community’s faith in God, the strength that comes from diversity, the importance of relationships and family, the community’s strong nonprofit sector, the value of the individual and the importance of taking risk.

They proposed a new mission statement for the district, which reads, “The mission of Tyler ISD, a diverse community of learners, is to empower and inspire independant thinkers through innovative learning opportunities, in partnership with our community, to positively impact the world.”

As proposed, the plan includes six objectives. These objectives called on the district to:

n Produce graduates prepared for college or career and competitive in a global economy;

n Provide highly effective educators and a safe, secure and positive learning environment; and

n Create an innovative educational environment in which students use cutting edge technology.

Six strategies further outline how to achieve the objectives, and action steps provide more detail for implementing these strategies.

The how of certain steps, such as funding and logistics, is addressed in the action steps, which can change as needed.

Ms. Tunnell said the strategic plan sets the course and vision for the future of TISD and its students.

The planners considered the aspirations of the district and set the strategic plan “outside our realms,” she said.

“There is no way Tyler ISD can realize any of these goals or objectives right now,” she said adding that the district will need resources, partnerships and more to make this happen, which is why it truly is a strategic plan.

TISD Superintendent Gary Mooring said the committee members did a lot of outside research into best practices as they were coming up with their ideas.

“It wasn’t just we got together and as a group we decided on these steps,” he said.

The timeline for implementation spans the next five school years. Ms. Tunnell said once the board approves the final plan, the district administrators will participate in a two-day mutual commitment, which will ensure everyone is on the same page.

“The accountability also has to happen so that the plan does not just sit on a shelf,” she said.

The strategic planning committee will meet each fall to gauge the progress toward the objectives and determine if changes need to be made to the action plans.

Board President the Rev. Orenthia Mason praised the committee members for their work. She said as a retired educator she is excited to see radical thinking included in the process.

Board member the Rev. Marty Dunbar, who was one of the committee members, said the plan has given the board something to work toward and help guide spending and decisions.

“It’s so much bigger than us and where we’re at right now,” he said.

Ms. Tunnell said the challenge for the board moving forward would be to consider the strategic plan when making decisions.