Steamboat schools to engage community in strategic planning effort |

Steamboat schools to engage community in strategic planning effort

The Steamboat Spring School District is launching strategic planning efforts that have been on hold since before the start of the pandemic, hoping to have a final plan by the end of the school year.

To help facilitate planning, the district has hired Denver-based nonprofit The Colorado Education Initiative, which previously worked with the Steamboat district on strategic planning for Yampa Valley High School, as well as other mountain school districts such as in Summit County.

“Our whole purpose is to work with school districts so that we can drive to more equitable, ambitious outcomes for all kids,” said Alex Cater, vice president of The Colorado Education Initiative who will work on implementation of the plan. “We want kids … to be prepared and unafraid to succeed in their futures.”

The timeline laid out by The Colorado Education Initiative will be to have framework for a plan by March 2022 with its adoption planned for May.

Steamboat School Board President Kelly Latterman, who worked with The Colorado Education Initiative on planning for Yampa Valley High School, said the organization has a commitment to equity and hearing all voices through the process.

School board member Kim Brack said she was involved in the most recent strategic planning process, and this time, it already looks much different.

“I think the timeline is aggressive, but I am happy to see that, because we have been so bogged down with everything else, that this got pushed out,” Brack said.

Developing a plan has been spread out into four phases, starting with conversations with district leaders to understand what the most important needs in the plan will be. Starting in December, the second phase will engage students, families, teachers, other district staff and the community about what they want to see in a Steamboat graduate.

Doing this will ensure the plan is authentic to what the community expects from the districts and the students that will be a product of its work, said Paul Beck, director of implementation and partnership for The Colorado Education Initiative.

“Through a community-based process … we’re able to build a little bit more buy-in and connection to the plan,” Beck said. “And the plan becomes more authentic and grounded in the needs, the stories and the narratives of the community.”

There is a plan to hold 10 virtual listening sessions throughout the community, as well as some “data digging” to help identify priorities based on the current state of the community, Beck said.

The third phase, starting in February 2022, is where the firm will work with a core team of internal district leaders and a steering committee of students, educators, community members and other local leaders to dig into the details about what skills and competencies graduates should have.

The plan’s design should be finished around April 2022, roughly when the district will be looking at the 2023 budget.

“By really keeping the community involved through the entire process, we find you get, at the end of the day, a strategic plan that is really a strategic plan you’re building for your community,” Carter said. “To say how are we using this organization … to really evolve our community and take it to where it wants to be.”

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