TPSD adopts school-year goals

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – New Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden now has a document to guide the school district’s efforts.
Tupelo’s school board approved last week five district goals for the current school year, as well as 32 measurable indicators that will be used to determine whether the goals have been reached.
“I think this will serve as a blueprint to guide us this year,” said TPSD Community Liaison Mary Ann Plasencia. “I think it is an accessible blueprint, and I think it is information people can easily understand and follow.”
Goals are increasing student achievement, providing a safe and orderly school environment, improving and retaining human capital, improving communications and increasing management effectiveness.
There was a deliberate effort this year not only to write the goals, but also to develop specific indicators for each. Where possible, those items are data driven, and in others, they include specific actions that will be taken.
Examples include increasing student test scores by specific amounts, improving the percentage of second-grade students reading on grade level, improving the district’s annual safety plan, conducting exit interviews with staff and using that information to adjust policies, sending weekly electronic newsletters to parents and keeping a 7 percent reserve in the district’s fund balance.
Work on the goals began during the school board’s retreat in June. Loden then developed the indicators and sought the input of principals, directors and assistant superintendents. The goals were first presented to the school board in late July before being approved last week.
The goals will be placed throughout the district, Plasencia said. They also will guide conversations Loden has with principals during the year.
“I do have a sense, Dr. Loden, that you have these goals built in to the way we operate our district,” board member Rob Hudson said at last week’s meeting. “I don’t feel like this is just writing goals for the sake of writing goals.”
There will be accountability, Plasencia said, because these goals will be a function of employees’ jobs.
“I think many of us feel invested to follow through on these,” she said.

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