Fort Smith Public Schools (FSPS) Superintendent Dr. Doug Brubaker stepped into the position on Jan. 18 and posted an 8-page outline to the district’s website for what he envisioned over the next 90 days. Ten months later, the plan has morphed into Vision 2023, a five-year strategic plan that is “starting to crystallize,” Brubaker told Talk Business & Politics.
Brubaker said Monday (Nov. 13) the 32-person committee in charge of defining future priorities within the district will meet publicly on Dec. 4 to discuss and align goals.
The Vision 2023 committee’s job is to define concrete implementation strategies to serve students on seven key objectives, which include equitable access to programs, resources, and opportunities; needed support for physical, mental, and emotional health; career planning and guidance; instruction from well-trained professionals; dependable and equal technological access across all schools; high-quality classroom instruction from pre-K through graduation; and a “safe, nurturing, and welcoming” learning environment.
“Each of the seven action teams who have been meeting over the course of the last two months are going to present what their recommendations are for inclusion into the strategic plan (at the Dec. 4 meeting),” Brubaker said, adding that “there will be some good dialogue and some deliberation as to whether those things should stay in the plan or whether they need to be amended or tweaked.”
Brubaker said the committee would focus particularly on “overlap between the different areas.”
“A big part of the strategic planning team’s mission is to blend those together, so three different groups may be working on something that includes technology infrastructure. How do we make sure we have alignment with the different parts of the plan? That will be a big part of it, I think,” Brubaker said.
Brubaker was not ready to talk about any future millage votes, only noting that, “First, we need to get through this process, and then we’ll see where we are with what to do about it,” but the discusson is likely coming in 2018. Currently – something likely to factor in to the facilities focus of Vision 2023 – the district is awaiting a facilities assessment from Corgan and Childers. The firm expects to deliver a draft of recommendations to the district this month with a final draft expected sometime in December or in January 2018.
Of the process as a whole, Brubaker said it has been “really exciting to see some of the things we’ve been planning for months — those investments of time and effort that we’ve all been making — starting to pay dividends. We’ll be working on bringing the rest of this work together to then go to the Board. We’re really crystallizing a vision for the next five years, and that, to me, is the most exciting thing.”
Brubaker’s original 8-page document from January listed four objectives for the 90-day entry plan that included establishing a “collaborative relationship” with the school board; developing an understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, growth areas, challenges, and opportunities within FSPS; aligning efforts of the administrative team to address the most urgent and important priorities while supporting/updating the district’s strategic plan accordingly; and building relationships with students, teachers, parents, administrators, staff members, local leaders, state officials, and the Fort Smith community.
The Vision 2023 plan has fulfilled at least part of that mission so far in bringing together the 32 team members consisting of students, FSPS staff, and Fort Smith community leaders. One entity to buy in is Baldor.
In recent public comments, Jason Green, the company’s vice-president of human resources, urged business leaders to reach out to students earlier than high school by providing “early exposure to education and career planning resources, guidance, and actual career pathways to prepare them with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, life-long learners.”
At the high school level, Green said, stakeholders need to “ensure all students graduate with an education and career plan, along with advanced, transferable skills and industry certifications,” while facilitating enrollment in “a variety of career pathways and technical concurrent credit courses that align” with their plans.
Green urged businesses over the coming months and years to “support and invest” in an initiative to build state-of-the-art advanced workforce development solutions targeted at high school and early college students.