Lake Placid Central officials explain 5-year plan
LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Central School District unveiled a five-year strategic plan during the board of education’s meeting on Aug. 15.
“I think we can say with confidence our strategic plan is ready to rumble, which is great,” district Superintendent Timothy Seymour said at the board’s meeting.
Strategic planning is a process that many organizations, from corporations to school districts, may choose to do. Throughout the strategic planning process, the organization defines its goals for the future and solidifies its strategy to achieve particular goals by examining its current practices.
This process is often guided by a consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning. In the case of the Lake Placid district, the strategic planning process began in March 2022 under the guidance of PLC Associates LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on K-12 education.
As part of the process, the district surveyed members of the community on the district’s instructional programming, curriculum, extra curricular activities, environment, management and aspirations. The district’s existing assets and places where it could improve were both highlighted, Seymour wrote in an email Wednesday.
The core team members of the strategic planning process included Seymour; District Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Dana Wood; the principals of both schools in the district, Sonja Franklin at the elementary school and Theresa Lindsay at the middle/high school; students Levi Barney and Brooke Beaney; alumni Caleb Mihill; former school board member Martha Pritchard Spear; elementary school teacher Amy Gramer; Community Schools Coordinator Keith Clark; Middle/High School Counseling Administrative Assistant Amanda Cash; Director of Pupil Personnel Services Sarah Allen; elementary school custodian Jonathan Wright; Marc Galvin, a parent, owner of the Bookstore Plus and Lake Placid village trustee; and Mindy Goddeau, a parent and village treasurer.
According to Seymour, the group was selected to best represent the district as it currently operates and “what we hope to be in the future.”
Mission and vision
A result of the strategic planning process was a set of mission and vision statements for the district, which describe the district’s trajectory for the next five years, and a subsequent set of “core beliefs” that describe the goals of this trajectory in greater detail.
The mission statement reads: “The Lake Placid Central School community is united in educating and supporting students to be engaged and empowered throughout their personal journeys.” The mission statement is centered around three keywords that, together, create the district’s new vision statement: “The Lake Placid Central School District is united, engaged and empowered.”
These keywords break down further into the six “core beliefs” of the district. Under “united,” the core beliefs read “We believe in honoring our past, while embracing our future” and “We believe in respecting each individual’s unique voice.” Under “engaged,” the core beliefs read “We believe in being respectful, collaborative and accepting” and “We believe in fostering a student-centered environment with a well-rounded, challenging education.” Under “empowered,” the core beliefs read “We believe in developing character, resilience, responsibility and compassion” and “We believe in supporting each individual’s unique journey toward personal fulfillment.”
The district will implement the strategic plan at the start of the 2023 school year. Under the strategic plan, all district decisions will be evaluated based on their relevance to and alignment with the district’s vision, mission, core beliefs and strategic intents.
“We’re not just creating a document and throwing it on the floor,” Seymour said. “This is going to be the basis of how we operate as a district.”
According to Seymour, the strategic plan was developed based on surveys of 162 middle/high school students, 99 elementary students, 97 family/community respondents and 81 staff members. After surveys of were collected, the core team determined areas in which “additional support, reflection, opinion and analysis” were necessary — academic excellence, innovation and wellbeing.
An academic excellence task force, composed of 18 different teachers and administrators from both schools, established three goals for the next five years.
The first goal is to “establish and enhance academic programs to empower students in their learning.” The district intends to establish academic baselines and progress monitoring for all students in both mathematics and English language arts. This will be accomplished by administering the Northwest Evaluation Association’s diagnostic exam in the fall, winter and spring of the forthcoming school year. The district will then set measurable targets for student growth based on baseline scores. Additionally, the task force recommended that the district provide opportunities for students to choose activities and topics within a classroom setting.
The second goal is to “foster a culture of reflection, feedback and goal setting where staff share meaningful data with students/parents about their learning and set goals for improvement.” The task force recommended that the district establish and subsequently implement a goal-setting procedure and feedback process — such as reports sent home to students and their families — based on NWEA diagnostic testing. This particular goal is set to be accomplished by the 2024-2025 school year.
The third goal is to “support K-12 collaboration through continued departmental initiatives in coordination with the Department Leadership Team.” This will be accomplished through vertical alignment — a term for when students’ entire 12-year-long education is unified through staff collaboration, rather than each grade level existing as an isolated entity. As staff communicate and coordinate lesson plans, skill building will flow more seamlessly and logically for students and reduce repetition or jumping around in the curriculum while maintaining skills learned in previous grades.
“On a basic level, vertical alignment is the process of ensuring that students are receiving the content at the appropriate grade level and that members of the same content areas and departments are intentional in the manner in which that content is delivered. There’s a lot of different ways it can happen,” Seymour said Aug. 23.
The way students are taught about essay-writing is a good example of an area that would benefit from vertical alignment, according to Seymour.
“There was all sorts of different terminology shifts about — do we call it a thesis, do we call it a main idea, do we call it a claim, and vertical alignment is an effort to make sure that everyone who is on the instructional side of the house is using that same terminology across the board and also that we know what the handoffs are, instructionally, from one grade to the next with regards to its students,” he said.
The innovation task force, composed of eight technology integration specialists, IT specialists and teachers from both schools, established one goal for the next five years: “LPCSD provides an education that prepares students for a changing, dynamic world.”
To reach the goal, the task force recommended that classrooms center around students and real-world experience and that LPCSD focus more on environmental sustainability. The innovation task force also echoed the academic excellence task force’s suggestion to provide opportunities for students to choose activities and topics within a classroom setting. Teachers will be encouraged to focus on project-based learning — a teaching style wherein students learn through real-world examples and hands-on activities. Alternate instruction and enrichment programs as well as internships, apprenticeships and job shadowing will be on offer for students. The district hopes to increase student participation in these programs.
The wellbeing task force was composed of eight members — including the school psychologist, a special education teacher, members of the school counseling departments, a custodian, the district food service director and two students. They established two goals for the next five years.
The first goal reads: “By 2028, 90% of staff will respond ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the survey benchmark ‘We will create a school community where students, staff and families are united, engaged and empowered in a safe and respectful environment that promotes wellness for all.'”
The second goal reads: “By 2028, 80% of students and families will respond ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the survey benchmark ‘Our school provides a safe and respectful environment that promotes wellness for all.'”
To accomplish these goals, the task force recommended that the school community support social-emotional learning — a style of education that emphasizes students’ development of interpersonal skills and emotional regulation. They also recommended that the district provide opportunities for connections between schools, students’ homes and the community at large and that the district promote wellness for students and staff alike.
The efficacy of most of the changes outlined in the strategic plan will be measured by surveying staff, families and students about their experiences in the district. The strategic plan will be officially unveiled to staff, families and students at the beginning of the forthcoming school year with a series of videos produced by an alum.