NHCS hopes to complete Strategic Plan before budget talks with county
On Friday, the New Hanover County school board held a meeting to discuss the district’s new strategic plan. The plan will guide both the board and the administration’s decisions over the next five years.
The last strategic plan on file for the district was from 2016 and covered through 2020.
In May of 2021, NPH, LLC, a consulting firm, started helping the school system draft its new plan.
From stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and surveys, NPH came to the conclusion that the overarching goal for the district is, "[e]very student receives a quality education in a safe and nurturing environment."
The consultants also recently conducted a survey to assess the community’s priorities.
Of the 5,068 respondents, a majority being parents, wanted the plan's top focus areas to be around student safety, a supportive teacher and staff environment, and academic performance.
These respondents also said the plan needed to specifically address student mental health.
Other key issues were improving communication strategies and reducing class sizes.
Board members also had priorities they want to addresss — Chair Stephanie Kraybill said she wanted to increase the diversity of the district’s staff as one of the plan's goals. For member Pete Wildeboer, it’s ensuring the staff feels safe coming to work. Member Nelson Beaulieu said he wanted to prioritize the learning loss from the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to NPH, the plan will be complete by March — and they needed about four weeks from January 31 to complete the rest of the process. But Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust told the consultants he wanted the plan ready to present to the board as soon as possible because it needs to be in place before any budgetary discussions with the county commissioners — a conversation that's likely to be contentious, given recent signals from commissioners, including Chair Julia Olsen-Boseman, that they're unhappy with the district's budget management.
Foust said he wanted most of the plan complete after the next work session slated for Monday, January 31. At this meeting, staff will review the goal statements created at the 28th meeting, conduct a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis, strategic development, and creation of action steps.
Chair Kraybill tentatively suggested that the board could approve the plan at their February 15th meeting.
As for tracking progress on the plan once it's approved, NPH said it's supporting the district in creating an accountability dashboard for specific goals.