With a growing district, it is easy to lose the unity needed to ensure excellent results for all students. Add to our size the geographic fragmentation with population growth along the Powers corridor outpacing our concentration in the eastern portion of the district. In addition to growth and geographic diversity, we have also reorganized our district into distinct zones, with a high degree of autonomy and local control. With all these factors pulling us apart, what will preserve our unity?The answer, in part, is the districtís strategic plan, which is a district initiative, with input from all of our zones and stakeholders.To help us talk about priorities, we have adopted the metaphor of the Big Rocks, which comes from author Stephen Covey and his advice to put ìfirst things first.î Over the next few months and into future years, we will be using the Big Rocks as an organizer, decision filter and unifying element for our district identity and shared work. Since they are going to be so prominent, Iíd like to share our five Big Rocks and what they mean to us all.
- Reestablish District 49 as a trustworthy recipient of taxpayer investmentAs a public school system, our primary sources of funding come directly from taxes to local, state and federal governments. In some districts, voting taxpayers choose to contribute more of their income by funding capital construction bonds or operating levies. The last time we asked voters to invest in our district, nearly seven out of 10 voters said no. With 70 percent opposed, we face a major challenge to turn opponents into supporters. To build our district on the rock of trust, we must be scrupulous about doing the right thing, keeping our promises and being transparent. We will not ask our community to meet our needs ñ we will establish our credibility so the community invests in us.
- Research, design and implement programs for community engagementOne way we will build trust is by engaging deeply with our community. It is tempting to think that invitations and open doors are good enough, but true engagement means we have to initiate all kinds of contact with the people and groups that make our district their home. We have a lot to offer our community in terms of facilities, professional insights and the daily service we provide their children. The more our relationship with the community creates mutual benefit, the more we can build on the Big Rock of community engagement as a strong foundation.
- Establish D 49 as the best district in Colorado to work, learn and leadIt is inspiring to think about working in a district that is the best place around. We aspire to be the best district because we know that quality of life is our best chance to compete with other schools and careers. We set high expectations and provide support so all of us can do our best work. For many adults ñ and students ñ the most important work is learning, so we aspire to be the best district in Colorado. We want students and parents, staff and guests to learn like never before. We want to attract and develop the best leaders around, so we aspire to identify, challenge and develop leadership qualities that set a new standard for education.
- Grow a portfolio of distinct and exceptional schoolsGreat school districts used to be characterized by consistency and predictability. In the years before school choice and charter schools, parents chose neighborhoods carefully because geography was destiny. Now, with choice and charters in the mix, parents and students are more like typical consumers- trying out options and choosing the best fit. Thatís why one of our five Big Rocks is to grow a robust portfolio of distinct and exceptional schools. We need to be robust because a strong and healthy system will give students and parents confidence that we are the best district for learning. We need a portfolio of schools with charter, IB, career academies, college enrollment, online options and purposeful blends of all those options.
- Customize our educational systems to launch each student toward successWhen it comes to learning and personal development, the best schools donít teach content; they teach individual students. Every year, more than 19,000 students are entrusted to our schools and teachers. We repay their investment by crafting great educational experiences and personalizing them to suit the needs of individual learners. We know that learning can be a launching pad for greatness, and we want our students to go where no one has gone before. The rock of customization is the capstone of our five Big Rocks because it launches our students into the best future we can give them.