Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools approved its Strategic Plan for 2022 to 2027 earlier this year. The plan is a roadmap outlining the district’s core values and goals for the next five years, and identifies the district’s key priorities and strategic actions to achieve those goals.
A detailed timeline for each goal accompanied the strategies with methods to measure the effectiveness of each goal in the plan.
After a year of collaboration with teachers, students and parents in focus groups, interviews and feedback sessions, the CHCCS Board of Education approved engagement, social justice action, collective efficacy, wellness and joy to be its core values.
Key priorities corresponding to these core values include creating a culture of safety and wellness, investing in CHCCS educators and strengthening family and community engagement.
“This strategic plan was done with a year’s worth of community input and involvement, so it exists because we engaged our community in identifying what our priorities should be,” Andy Jenks, the district’s chief communications officer, said. “That’s a long, arduous and time-consuming process but ultimately we land in a good place because we end up with a plan that reflects what our community wants for the students of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.”
One of the goals that is emphasized in the plan is social justice action.
George Griffin, a member of the CHCCS Board of Education, explained there are racial disparities in academic performance.
“The elephant in the room for us is that we have a very high-performing school district for a lot of students, and that’s been the history of CHCCS for decades," he said. "But also, the truth is there’s large groups of nonwhite students who are not doing as well academically, and that’s been a persistent problem."
The strategic plan addresses these disparities in several ways, including ensuring that enrollment in all student groups reflects the demographics of the district. In order to achieve this, the system plans to enroll at least 80 percent of each racial and ethnic group in Advanced Placement courses for 11th and 12th graders.
The plan also seeks to decrease disproportionate discipline referral rates by 20 percent for students with disabilities, Latinx students, Black students, multiracial male students and multilingual students.
Personalized support for students based on their strengths and areas of need will also be prioritized through an increase in access to school services, such as counselors and social workers, in order to achieve this.
Jenks said equity is at the forefront of the district's actions, and it's essential to put resources into a variety of places that will benefit students in a way that allows them to achieve their fullest potential.
CHCCS will also be aiming to increase support and resources for its teachers, as well as recruit a diverse workforce that reflects the demographics of the district.
“Starting last year up until now I have seen many teachers quit, mainly because they are not being funded financially,” Asher Strauss, an East Chapel Hill High School student, said. “I also notice that we have a lack of substitutes. Many times this year my classes have been moved to the cafeteria because we were not given a substitute.”
Part of the strategic plan states the district’s commitment to explore more flexible work schedules and manageable workloads for educators.
“We want to recognize our past but we don’t want to be driven by it. We want to move forward in a new direction,” Griffin said. “We want the community to feel like the schools belong to them.”
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