East Williston schools to set new 5-year strategic plan

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East Williston schools to set new 5-year strategic plan
Superintendent Elaine Kanas, middle, discusses the strategic planning committee process at Monday's meeting. Also pictured Danielle Gately, left, assistant superintendent for instruction and and personnel, and Mark Kamberg, Board of Education president. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

It is time for members of the East Williston community to share their goals for the school district.

The district is in the final year of a five-year strategic plan and is ready to create a new one, said Superintendent Elaine Kanas. The plan serves as a blueprint for the district to achieve the community’s goals, she said.

The first step is hearing from the community, Kanas said. Community members can identify what areas of improvement they see as priorities at a public forum at the Wheatley School on Dec. 6, Kanas said.

“That’s the first opportunity [to hear] not just what the committee believes are the important dimensions that the community wants to know about, but what do you the community want,” Kanas said.

A virtual forum will be held on the same day, Kanas said.

Following the forum, the district will send out a survey including the topics identified by the community, Kanas said. From the survey results, the planning committee will pull out the top four and bottom four priorities, as well as create a list of goals, Kanas said.

Academic professionals will take the list and turn the ideas into practical courses of action, finding and implementing new programs for the schools, according to Kanas.

“It’s a blueprint, things change but we hold ourselves accountable to it,” Kanas said. “Once the board accepts a plan the board reviews it each year and changes are made along the way.”

The new STEM programs are an example of the current strategic plan in process, Kanas said. This year is the culmination of a four-year engineering program, called Project Lead the Way, which was put into place based on the last strategic planning process, Kanas said.

Through the four-year sequence students take one engineering course every year, and by the end of their senior year are able to receive college credit, according to Sean Feeney, principal of the Wheatley School.

The community identified STEM as an area for the district to improve upon, Kanas said. Educational professionals took that information and sought out an engineering program, looking at schools across the county and state, before implementing one at Wheatley, Kanas said.

There have also been STEM improvements across grade levels, including three new science units at all elementary grade levels and the robotics programs in the middle school and elementary school, according to Kanas.

Board of Education President Mark Kamberg said under Kanas’ lead the last strategic plan was a success, and he said he and the board are excited for the next five years.

“The community should be looking forward and participating in the forum because it is our community,” Kamberg said.

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