DeKalb County School Board members voted in support of Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s new Excellence in Education Plan, which officials said would be instrumental in moving the system forward over the next five years.
Atkinson said the new plan was the result of plans already in place, including her 90-Day Entry Plan, coming together to form one coherent vision for the school system.
“Victory, we believe, is in the classroom and it will take a focused, strategic, tactical plan to ensure performance management and continuous improvement for all of our students,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said the five guiding principles of the plan are “students come first; every school must believe that parents are our partners; leadership and accountability at all levels are keys to our success; we are not alone in this endeavor and victory is in the classroom.”
School Board Chairman Eugene Walker amended the meeting agenda to call a special vote and all of the board members supported the plan.
“The superintendent has presented us and the community at large with a solid strategic plan, a vision for moving this district forward,” Walker said.
Additionally, Woods said community members, parents, teachers and students had input in the new plan’s development and it wasn’t just “created in a vacuum.”
“In fact, things were prioritized and deprioritized based on their feedback,” Woods said.
The plan also involves an aligned management system, which both Atkinson and school system spokesman Walter Woods said would hold the system accountable.
“The accountability office will basically be ensured with collecting data and making sure that we’re moving forward. It’s a program that says, ‘Here’s what you’ve outlined to do, here’s the timeline to do it.’ That office will be in charge of not only assessing how we’re going but also checking off the goals we reach down to the very specific steps,” Woods said.
Last year, the system was visited by AdvacED, the parent company of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and placed on advisement. The company said the school system needed to address several issues before being taken off advisement. One of them was updating the strategic plan.
“We’ve had strategic plans in the past and under AdvancED they wanted us to update it and we started that process in the spring/summer of last year. Dr. Atkinson came in and sort of put her vision on it, which is the aligned management system,” Woods said.
School officials said the system has addressed each of the eight points mentioned by AdvancED and is in-line to return to a cleared status when the company visits again this spring.