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District talks goals, future improvement

NATCHEZ — Increasing student achievement, creating a safe school environment, providing positive educational experiences and having a sound financial balance are the four goals the Natchez-Adams School District will strive to achieve each year.

How district officials will achieve those goals was the golden question Friday afternoon when school board members met with Superintendent Frederick Hill to discuss the district’s proposed strategic plan.

The discussion of the strategic plan was part of a two-day school board retreat at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Natchez campus.

“We have our vision, mission and goals established, but how we’re going to reach those goals needs to established,” Hill told board members Friday. “What we’ve been doing is putting Band-Aids on things because we didn’t have a strategic plan that guided us on our decisions to use our resources in the district.”

Hill walked board members through portions of the strategic plan, which included strategies for reaching the district’s four goals and indicators of success for those goals.

The one-page list of strategies included recruiting, employing, developing and retaining highly qualified educators to increasing the amount of advanced placement courses offered in the district.

The two-page list of indicators of success included increasing the student attendance rate to improving ACT scores.

Board member Thelma Newsome said having the district’s goals and expectations clearly outlined will help the board when it makes decisions on items.

“Everything we do should be aligned with the goals and objectives we’ve set for the district and, if not, why are we even doing it?” Newsome said. “This way, we know we’re not spending money on things that aren’t aligned with the goals and objectives for the district.”

Board member David Troutman said items such as future school construction should also be included in the district’s plan.

“The reality is that within five or 10 years, we’re going to have to do something to pay for construction of a new school,” Troutman said. “So we need to look at what we have to do now to be able to do that in 10 years.”

Board member Benny Wright said the plan shouldn’t be completely set in stone in order to allow district officials to add or change things as the district evolves.

“It needs to be more of a living document,” Wright said. “Things are going to occur, and we need to have the flexibility to add them to the strategic plan depending on our priorities at that time.”

Other portions of the district’s strategic plan include outlining the district’s core values as well as outlining the qualities every district teacher and principal should exhibit.

“When we’re recruiting teachers or interviewing teachers, these are the qualities we’re looking for,” Hill said. “Some of them are innate, and some of them you can teach…but these are the qualities we would like to see when we’re hiring folks.”

Qualities for a district principal include someone who is a visionary, exhibits leadership, connects with people and empowers others.

Qualities for a district teacher include someone who is vision-oriented, knowledgeable and a mentor, among other things.

Hill requested board members provide him with feedback on the proposed strategic plan in order to create a final version for the board to adopt.