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Chatham Schools Strategic Planning Committee's first meeting

Posted Saturday, October 29, 2005

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Strategic Planning Committee First Meeting Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Strategic Planning Committee had its initial meeting at Horton Middle School at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 29, 2005.

Dr. Ann Hart, Superintendent, introduced herself, saying it was an honor to serve this community as its superintendent.

Dr. Hart welcomed all participants, thanking the participants for joining the school community in this endeavor and bringing their individual expertise to this project.

Acknowledging that everyone probably cannot make every meeting of the Committee, Dr. Hart encouraged participants to stay involved throughout the process by accessing information that will be posted on the school district’s webpage ( throughout the Strategic Planning Committee’s work.

Dr. Hart indicated that this strategic plan should spearhead where the school system will be in five years time.

Thanking participants for the personal information they have provided by signing up this evening, Dr. Hart encouraged persons with email addresses to provide those as well.

Dr. Hart stated that tonight’s information is being provided to acquaint members to the school district, its profile, and to provide an historical perspective for the Committee. Dr. Hart thanked members for accessing the survey on line. She urged those that haven’t
completed the survey to take a paper copy home this evening, fill it out, and return it to her office. Dr. Hart stated that the survey would provide a point of reference as a benchmark for the Committee’s work.

Dr. Hart remarked that the survey would allow the district to assess how effective it is perceived with regard to instructional services, as an institution, its strengths and weaknesses. Further surveys will emit from the Committee and focus groups and town meetings will occur as part of the Committee’s research.

Dr. Hart urged each Committee member to serve as an advocate and liaison for their contingency groups throughout the work of the Committee.

Dr. Hart, acknowledging that future Committee meetings will be held at Horton Middle due to the size of the Committee, stated that future meetings would be comprised of work groups rather than the talking at the Committee that is occurring tonight.

Ms. Lynne Johnson, Executive Director of Human Resources, introduced the Committee’s facilitator, Gene Huddle, of Performance Solutions, Inc., saying it is a treat to welcome Mr. Huddle this evening and that she had worked with him when she was in Guilford County. Ms. Johnson indicated that Mr. Huddle has worked in Wake County, at NC State University, at the US Department of Education, and with groups around the world.

Mr. Huddle indicated the size of tonight’s meeting is a good indicator of the vibrant educational community supporting the Chatham County Schools. Mr. Huddle pointed out that this strategic planning process represents a commitment to the success of this school system and its path for the next five years.

Mr. Huddle stated that the Committee would look at the research on effective practices in education and what is needed for a school to be effective. Mr. Huddle stressed that for schools and staff to be effective, they must believe that the school system will support

Mr. Huddle shared the following key indicators of a successful school system:
1. Leadership
2. Strategic Planning and Results
3. Curriculum and Teaching
4. Stakeholder Engagement (partnerships with parents are paramount)
5. Stellar People
6. Effective and Efficient Processes (school districts constitute big business)
7. Accountability

At this point, Mr. Huddle asked Committee members to discuss these key indicators among themselves for approximately five minutes.

Mr. Huddle stated that teachers’ high expectations are necessary for student success and the district must put forth a clearly, understood mission so that staff and students are committed to common goals.

Mr. Huddle pointed out that the culture in a school determines what gets done so cultures may have to change to support the district’s mission.

Mr. Huddle indicated that research shows that, nationally, children spend approximately .5 to 1.6 hours each day in true academic learning time. The Committee needs to ascertain how much time this school system spends on academics each day.

Mr. Huddle stated that school staff often fail to realize how disruptive such things as announcements over the loud speaker are to academic concentration. He added that a safe and orderly environment is a big issue in student learning. He said students must be
safe and feel safe in the school environment to be successful.

Mr. Huddle, using gestures to acquaint the Committee with the terms, highlighted the high expectations, clear and focused vision, home-school communication, time on learning, pulse taking of the district, and establishing a safe environment that must be present in an effective school.

Mr. Huddle acknowledged that strategic planning is a job worth doing, noting that we have the information necessary, but we don’t have the answers.

Dr. Hart, using a Power Point presentation, reviewed the past five years’ performance by the Chatham County Schools, indicating that the core mission of this district is to teach and to have learning occur. Dr. Hart also reviewed how the school district is currently assessed from within, statewide, and nationally. Dr. Hart pointed out that trends matter more than a single year’s overall performance. The PowerPoint and performance data are available on the district’s website.

Dr. Hart encouraged Committee members to invite their neighbors to future meetings if they feel their ethnic group is not currently well represented within the Committee’s membership.

Dr. Hart stressed that everyone must believe that every child will be successful.

Dr. Hart stated her goal for the district will be to raise the floor, not lower the ceiling for student success and that this district will address the achievement gap of students as long as a gap remains.

Dr. Hart pointed out that the same things cannot occur in every school because the demographics of each school varies.

Dr. Hart urged the Committee members to tell the district what is desired in its schools

Dr. Hart introduced Lori Carlin, a Chatham County teacher and a doctoral student, who will be assisting the committee in gathering data for its work.

Ms. Carlin indicated that profiles of the community characteristics, school system characteristics, and student achievement would be compiled for the committee Dr. Hart encouraged persons present tonight to remain with this process and share their expertise and ideas with this Committee.

The next meeting will be held on October 20th at 7 p.m. at Horton Middle School (refreshments at 6:30 p.m.).

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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