District gets good start on long-term strategic planning

Superintendent Pete Bush, shown greeting students earlier this year, said he was pleased with community turnout as part of the district Strategic Planning Process

Despite the deep freeze that forced the district to close school 14 days already this winter, the timeline for Sparta’s Strategic Planning Process is on track. Jan. 28 was the kickoff day for the comprehensive study, but despite a snow day, the only piece of the plan that was scrapped was an afternoon session with a panel of high school students.

Day One of the process included sessions with the administrative team, local business leaders, teaching and support staff, and one with the community. “We were pleased that even with school closed, we had a pretty good turnout that evening, with about 25 community members in attendance,” said Superintendent Pete Bush.

Online surveys have also been completed and compiled. Responses were grouped to aid in the next step of the planning process.

Topping the wish list from survey are for the district to focus on: increasing opportunities and electives for students, such as FFA, foreign languages and the arts; classroom innovation, improving teaching methods and technology training; improving academics including student achievement, and standards aligning with curriculum; and enhancing safety and security.

Survey Said …

Other goals mentioned often by survey respondents included requests for more:

  • interventions for struggling students;
  • athletic program funding;
  • Advanced Placement and college-prep offerings;
  • basic life courses such as home economics or personal finance;
  • opportunities for career prep, such as resume writing and trade skills;
  • mental health services;
  • improved communications, including social media.

The next step will be prioritizing the goals and setting up action meetings to finalize a plan, which is expected to be presented to the board for approval in early June.

“Not every school goes through a comprehensive planning process like this, and as far as I know this is the first time for Sparta,” said Bush. If approved by the board, the new strategies will be implemented in the 2019-2020 academic year.

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

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