Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Constant said Thursday that the strategic plan the district has been working on for about a year with the consulting firm Studer/Huron was messy, but one of the most rewarding processes of his 28-year education career.

The OPS Board of Education unanimously approved the plan that will be its guidepost for the next five years.

“This is a historic night for us, because we are going to set the stage for the next five years,” Constant said, as he pulled up a slideshow of some of the main points of the plan. “These aren’t just words. These are goals and actions, and our plans for reporting to the public how we are accomplishing these goals.”

Deanna Ashby, a coach with Studer/Huron who has been working closely with the board to develop the plan, explained its planning process and overview, which involved multiple points of data. She, with district leadership, administered surveys to students, families, staff and community members, and engaged with focus groups to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement throughout OPS.

Ashby said key questions were developed for the focus groups: What are the strengths of OPS? What are opportunities for improvement that should be focused on? In five years, when the district has been successful in this process, what will have been accomplished? What words do you want to hear when people describe their service and experience in OPS?

Constant said students form the foundation of OPS, and families, staff and the community form the pillars that hold up that foundation.

He listed specific actions that will be enacted as a result of this plan: provide students with a structure to express their voice; celebrate every student consistently and counsel them to understand where they currently are, where they want to go, and how to get there; help students form connections with an adult advocate; cultivate innovative programs tailored to meet and exceed students’ needs; embed avenues for positive academic growth for every student, every year; and maximize participation in clubs, programs and activities at all levels for students.

“We need to claim and name every student we have,” he said. “We want every child to grow every year.”

Families indicated through the data that they would like a streamlined communication channel from the district and their schools, as well as the assurance that grades would be entered in a timely manner, and more information about how to reduce barriers for families’ participation in the school community.

For staff, Constant said, the goals are to cultivate a culture of gratitude, educate and empower them to make professional decisions for student success by linking academic, behavioral and attendance data, and provide them with a structure to express their voice, among other goals.

Goals to help strengthen the community’s role and relationship within the district include celebrating and promoting area businesses and their involvement in the schools, along with increasing opportunities for student involvement and service.

Constant also said the establishment of an OPS alumni organization is in the works, and that the district will work to solicit feedback from community members about employment opportunities and workforce needs.

He said the strategic plan process also includes creating a scorecard to ensure the district is actively working through these goals throughout the next few years. He also said the district will be developing its budgets to include these goals, and how the district spends funds will honor them.

Board member Jeremy Puckett said this systematic approach to celebrating success, but also working toward continuous improvement, is “very worthwhile” and that he looks forward to seeing how the process unfolds.

Melissa Decker, board chairwoman, said she was excited to see the plan and is looking forward to what it can do for the district moving forward.

“It feels good to hear what you’re doing well,” she said, “but it’s exciting to see how you can improve.”

To view the strategic plan in its entirety, visit the Owensboro Public Schools website, https://www.owensboro.kyschools.us/.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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