Columbus schools craft vision statements

 

Dr. Martha Liddell talks with Mike Neyman, a consultant from the University of Mississippi's Institute for Education and Workforce Development, Saturday at Brandon Central Services.

Dr. Martha Liddell talks with Mike Neyman, a consultant from the University of Mississippi's Institute for Education and Workforce Development, Saturday at Brandon Central Services. Photo by: Carmen K. Sisson/Dispatch Staff

 

Carmen K. Sisson

 

 

The Columbus Municipal School District continued crafting its vision plan Saturday during the second of three strategic planning sessions.

 

More than 60 teachers, administrators and community leaders, including Columbus Mayor Robert Smith and Columbus Police Department Chief Selvain McQueen, met with representatives from the Institute for Education and Workforce Development, a partnership between the University of Mississippi and the National Center on Education and the Economy.

 

The first session, held Aug. 25, taught attendees how to draft an effective vision statement using core values which the district intends to focus upon to achieve success in the coming years.

 

 

Saturday's continuation of the plan called for the development of numerous rough vision statements, then a "gallery walk-through," during which the sample statements were posted on the wall at Brandon Central Services and session attendees walked down the line of posters, ranking them from one to five.

 

Most participants chose a blended vision statement: "The CMSD will provide students with an internationally-competitive environment that will prepare and inspire all students to become college- and/or career-ready."

 

The vision statement is intended to motivate staff members and help them focus on results that are achievable, actionable, measurable and memorable, former state superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham said at the previous strategic planning session.

 

A rough draft of goals drawn up during the session include increasing student achievement; recruiting, training and retaining highly-effective teachers, administrators and staff; providing safe, secure and well-maintained buildings; delivering "an equitable and adequate financial system that reflects fiscal responsibility in budget planning and expenditures;" transparency with stakeholders, providing engaging extracurricular activities for all students, and making sure all students are reading at grade level by third grade.

 

Liddell said Saturday's meeting went well, with good engagement from participants.

 

"We've got to compete and put out kids that can have a chance in college and the marketplace," Liddell said. "We can't continue to be the bottom of the rung."

 

She said the key to effectiveness and efficiency is for the district to be accountable, data-driven and proactive.

 

The district, as a whole, received a "D" classification from the Mississippi Department of Education earlier this month based upon students' performance on state accountability tests.

 

Columbus High School, which received an "F," saw sharp declines in test scores, as well as the graduation rate, in 2010-2011.

 

Only two of the district's seven schools -- Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School and Franklin Academy Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School -- improved their ranking.

 

The third and final strategic plan meeting, during which attendees will develop objectives for meeting their goals, will be held Nov. 10 at 8:30 a.m.

 

 

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.

 

 

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