SISD looks to community to plan for future

For the first time since 1997, Sherman Independent School District is taking an in-depth look at its long-term goals. The Board of Trustees voted Monday to contract with Plano-based educational consultants N2 Learning to create a strategic plan for the district.

“The Board thinks it’s been a while. There’s been a lot of change out there, both in the state and the district,” said Board President Tim Millerick.“Hopefully this brings a number of constituents together through a process to get a unified picture of where we want or need to go.”

This process, Millerick said, will bring together District staff, teachers, students of all ages, parents, community members, business leaders and outside consultants over the course of the school year to build cohesive goals for SISD to follow over the next decade. Long term committees and short term focus groups will discuss everything from instructional styles to community involvement to use of technology, presenting final plans to the Board in April or May of next year.

The goal of the process, according to Superintendent Al Hambrick, is to create “a shared vision between the school District, the community, our parents and our staff.” This vision, Hambrick said, is long overdue.

“We have accountability changes, we have finance changes, we have 21st century learning standards that weren’t there years ago,” said Hambrick. “There are many, many things now that are different than they were when the original plan was developed.”

The plan currently guiding the District was created 17 years ago and has been sporadically updated. The new plan will be reviewed each year and changed as necessary, Hambrick said.

The process does, however, come with a price tag. The District will spend $24,000 developing the plan.

Hambrick said that this extra cost is worth it to have an objective third party facilitating the discussions. An outside firm can more easily weigh all the interests of all the parties involved in the process.

Plus, Millerick said, the strategic planning process is long and involved: SISD staff don’t have the time to run dozens of meetings without help. “To put another thing on someone’s plate can be hard,” Millerick said.

The next step in the process will be identifying and inviting participants, which N2 Learning partner Eddie Coulson predicted could be finished by the end of September. Both Hambrick and Millerick said they will work hard to create a diverse and honest group which can fully represent the community of Sherman.

Then meetings will begin, and the various committees and groups will begin focusing on areas which concern them. “We certainly plan to go into these meetings with open minds,” said Hambrick, noting that he is willing to let the community drive the discussion of what the District needs to do.

“That is the plan, to get everyone’s voices heard,” said Millerick. “It will get our District going in the direction that people want.”


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