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School board approves five-year strategic plan
Effingham County Board of Education

SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County Board of Education’s strategic plan for 2020-2025 was approved unanimously Thursday night.

The plan, established over the last six months, features 11 strategic goals and 55 action steps. 

“We had an amazing district planning team that was cross district,” said Dr. Lissa Pijanowski, a senior fellow for the International Center for Leadership in Education. “We had everyone from principals to teachers to counselors and social workers. It was a fantastic planning team — including two of our board members.

“We thank them for serving. We appreciate it.”

The strategic-planning team through a pair of focus groups, community feedback and surveys.

The district’s vision is: engaging learners for future success.

The district’s mission is: make every moment count because every student matters.

The district believes: 

— student engagement is key to success

—  in high expectations for all

— that learning is a shared responsibility

— in supporting the whole child

— a positive, caring staff makes a difference

— in safe learning environments

— everyone should be treated with respect

The strategic goals include:

— promote and develop effective leadership

— support organizational effectiveness and efficiency

— engage families and the community as an active partner

— foster a culture of creativity, innovation and collaborative problem solving

— provide engaging, student-centered learning experiences

— prepare learners to be future ready

— increase collective capacity through professional learning

— improve organizational operations

— maximize use of fiscal resources

— expand and improve learner-centered supports

— recruit, maintain and develop a high-quality workforce

After her presentation, Pijanowksi, a veteran of nearly 30 years in the education field, said five-year strategic plans aren’t mandated.

“But every school district should have one,” she said.

Pijanowski’s work focuses on how data and planning drive instruction and empower teachers to create authentic, rigorous, relevant and engaging learning moments for students. Her recent book, Architects of Deeper Learning, provides a framework for educators to design, implement and assess meaningful classroom work, giving students the tools they need to solve complex problems, communicate effectively, collaborate  and generate ideas.

Later in the meeting, the board called for a special July 9 meeting to discuss its budget for next year. The budgeting process was interrupted when the General Assembly was forced to go on hiatus in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislators went back to work last week looking to cut the budget by 11 percent. Local school boards need to know what the Quality Basic Education total (a base dollar amount to fund for each student) will be.

At its most basic, QBE takes the total number of students, and uses that number to decide how much to pay out for school employee salaries (known as direct instructional cost and indirect cost) and other expenses needed to run a school (known as categorical grants). Before sending that amount down to districts, QBE subtracts out what the state thinks each district should be paying on its own, called local fair share.

“The good news is that we got information (June 17) that the equalization piece will not be cut by 11 percent as we were told earlier,” Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford said.

Ford said he said the district should be able to absorb the expected cutbacks without severe pain.

“That’s as long as our QBE numbers come in where we think they are,” he said.

In other moves, the board approved its Employee Handbook and Student & Parent Handbook. It also voted to leave its salary schedules for employees at the same rates as last year.

In addition, the board, through eRate, OK’d a structural upgrade to the district’s internet capability.

“What we are hoping for is that this ‘tier one’ equipment will put us in more reliable Wi-Fi environment — more manageable, more serviceable and more secure,” Technology Director Jeff Lariscy said.