APS Strategic Plan Update

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Engage with APS by participating in their Strategic Plan survey (courtesy of APS website)

Claire Kuwana, Head Editor

Every six years, Arlington Public Schools (APS) develops a Strategic Plan to outline the goals and strategies for the school system as a whole. As the 2011-2017 plan is about to expire, APS staff members have been working throughout the past year to develop the plan for 2018-2024. The plan is drafted by the Steering Committee, which consists of students, parents, staff and community members. The final draft of the plan is presented by the Superintendent to the school board, and once the school board adopts it, it can be implemented throughout the county.

This year, the process of drafting the Strategic Plan differed in that a larger emphasis was placed on community feedback. At each step of the process, a draft of the plan was released to the public along with a survey for Arlington community members to critique the plan. The first draft generated harsh feedback, but the Steering Committee has taken this criticism to heart and used it to tweak the plan. The committee encourages community members, particularly students, to participate in the questionnaire, which can be found on the APS website and at the bottom of this article. The survey closes April 19, 2018. This will likely be the last draft of the plan that is made public for community feedback, so it is vital that students, parents and staff voice their opinions on the plan before then.

The Steering Committee, chaired by Meredith Purple and Ted Black, especially values students’ perspectives. H-B Woodlawn Sophomore Ben Stokely is a part of the committee, and although being a member was intimidating at first, it was clear to him that they appreciated his opinion.

“[I am] proud to be a part of a committee that honors student feedback and voices,” Stokely said.

Washington-Lee senior Natalie Arandia is also a part of the Steering Committee. Arandia stressed that this new plan focuses less on just the “average student.” Instead, it was drafted to make sure it fits everyone such as those who speak a different language, students who do not have a supportive home environment or students who have learning disabilities. This plan also focuses more on preparing students for life after high school, whether that includes college or not.

Though the Strategic Plan does not include specific guidelines for implementation, it serves as a basis for all of the plans created annually by each part of APS. The broad, overarching goals established in the plan allows for staff members to bring up new ideas as time passes. In order to account for what might develop over the next six years, the plan includes only the areas APS would like to focus on, not exactly what changes are going to be made. The implementation details are then left up to APS staff. The plan essentially consists of six sections: a mission, which is the purpose of the system, or why it exists; a vision, or what the system aspires to be; core values, which is what APS believes in; goals to strive towards that will guide how they make decisions; strategies, or how goals will be implemented; and outcomes with monitoring metrics to track progress. The progress made on these various topics can be tracked on the APS website using the annual Strategic Plan reports.

Given that almost every APS policy generated in the next six years will stem from this Strategic Plan, it is important that the community is aware of the changes being made. In order to stay updated on the progress of the plan, use the link below to review the draft. Make sure to provide feedback and ensure that this plan is representative and supportive of the Arlington community.

https://www.apsva.us/engage/strategic-plan/