School District outlines new set of goals

Nine-initiative strategic plan seeks to raise standards at Juneau schools

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009

The Juneau School District is developing a plan it hopes will raise standards, achievement and accountability for students, teachers and staff.

Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich outlined the nine-initiative strategic plan at the school board meeting Tuesday night.

The plan specifies nine initiatives within four areas: Student achievement, "highly qualified staff," community commitment and "culture of service and support." Specific initiatives include aligning student standards "with world-class goals in mind," having a staff professional development system that's responsive to student achievement data, aligns with district goals and maximizes the use of money spent and strengthening community partnerships for improved career, service and civics education. Some of the goals are ongoing; some are under way.

Each initiative is to have specific steps with timelines and people responsible for their implementation by Jan. 15. The timeline ends in June 2014.

School Board President Mark Choate said one of the criticisms the district has faced is that staff don't always know what they're supposed to be doing.

"A lot of people are trying their best, but there's not necessarily much focus in terms of 'This is where we're going, this is how we're getting there, and this is your role. This is how you have a part in this to make sure it happens,'" he said. "These (strategic goals) are supposed to assist us in doing this."

Gelbrich also said he hopes the plan helps set priorities in what will be a tighter budget environment in the coming years.

"It's very clear we can do better in terms of how our students are doing - but it's also very clear we're looking at a lean budget environment," Gelbrich said. "We will need to be focused. It's vital that we ... use that strategic plan as a way to focus our resources on key, system-wide strategies."

The plan is based on feedback received in Gelbrich's first 100 days in office, dubbed "100 days of listening," as well as feedback from surveys, external evaluations and research on high-achieving school districts.

Becoming one of those high-achieving districts also is part of the goal.

"Part of our plan is to get away from the Alaska core standards, which are quite low, and look at national and international standards," Choate said.

"One of the distressing thing about Alaska in general is we're testing kids to basically the lower third of the country... If you only measure at those levels, you never find out what your kids are capable of and you never really give your children a chance to be everything they can be."

The plan differs from past goals in its specificity, Gelbrich said.

"This is a systemic, purposeful intent to accomplish the goals, not to just broadcast them," Gelbrich said. "It's not a wish list; it's an action plan."

For more information, visit the Web at

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or

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