One-hundred and eighty community members, students and Faribault Public Schools employees completed surveys in the spring, and 226 later participated in virtual planning sessions, all to guide the district in its strategic planning process.

Soon enough, those participants can see their input reflected in the district’s final strategic plan. But first, the board wants to do some tweaking and make some additions. Using feedback on what the district does well and which areas need improving, the strategic plan will serve as a road map for Faribault Public Schools moving forward.

During the School Board’s June 2 virtual meeting, Community Relations Coordinator Matt Steichen presented the district’s prospective identity statement, mission statement, visions, core values and priorities. These elements, which Steichen developed with administrators and the Big River Group strategic planning service, were presented to gain the board’s feedback, not approval.

The identity statement Steichen presented reads:

“Faribault Public Schools serves approximately 3,500 students in our high school, middle school, three elementary schools, and an Area Learning Center. Our early childhood center, adult education and community education serves learners of all ages.”

The mission statement, in its current stage of development, reads:

“Faribault Public Schools provides a safe and caring learning environment for all students. Our team of educators guides meaningful co-curricular opportunities and innovative educational programs that challenge and empower every student, helping them develop the skills they need to become successful citizens and life-long learners.”

Steichen said the administration team believed it important to establish an emotional connection with families in the mission statement’s wording. Families participating in the planning sessions said they feel strongly about having positive relationships with teachers and wanted that priority reflected in the mission statement. Words like “guide” and “helping” were included to highlight staff working with families rather than simply “talking to them,” said Steichen.

The team also wanted to use the word “all” when referring to students in the first sentence to emphasize the district’s role of being there for everyone and wrap up the entire statement with a goal. Sentences or fragments of the statement, said Steichen, are still malleable.

Board member John Bellingham felt that the mission statement doesn’t read like a mission statement the way it’s worded right now. Board member Carolyn Treadway agreed the statement is too long and “… does not clearly define what we’re about in the way that most mission statements are very succinct.”

Board member Yvette Marthaler suggested a couple board members become involved with the development and verbiage of the mission statement, and Board Chair Chad Wolff agreed up to three board members may work on that.

Students, community members and employees also shared what they want the district to be recognized for in five years. While the visions are set in stone, Steichen said the corresponding sentences are alterable.

As they are currently, the vision statements read:

“Providing a school environment focused on student well-being and meeting the needs of all students. Our Vision: Mental Health and Safety.

“Creating an equitable environment where every child has the opportunity to succeed. Our Vision: Equity.

“Developing innovative and creative ways of addressing student achievement, including pathways and project-based learning. Our Vision: Innovation.

“Creating a culture of unity, pride and connectedness. Our Vision: Culture.

“Engaging the community in the teaching and learning of students through partnerships with parents, businesses and the faith community. Our Vision: Community Engagement.”

The first three visions describe what the district is doing in terms of education, the second to last vision looks inward, and the last looks outward, said Steichen. One of the next steps in the process is to decide on strategies and benchmarks for each vision statement, which will be discussed further at the July 13 Board meeting.

The strategic planning team also used community, student and employee feedback to establish four priorities for the district. They are:

“Create a training plan for all staff on mental health.

“Develop and implement FPS online learning options.

“Create a training plan for all staff on equity and inclusion.

“Implement parent and community engagement: empower staff, community and students as decision makers.”

A specific member of the Faribault Public Schools cabinet has been assigned to each priority. The next step is to develop a plan of action to bring to the July 13 School Board meeting.

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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