Approximately 500 community members attended district’s strategic planning sessions
[Newark NJ – March 1, 2016] – Newark Public Schools’ (NPS) summarized the feedback that was collected in a final strategic planning session Thursday at Central High School. In total, approximately 500 community members attended the meetings over the last month, which were hosted in each ward and included parents, educators and community leaders.
“It has been encouraging to see the community come together over the last few weeks to have an open and honest dialogue about the strategies we should use to improve our schools,” said Superintendent Chris Cerf of Newark Public Schools. “We have received valuable feedback from these strategic planning meetings that will help us better serve students now and pave the way for a transition to local control in the near future. I look forward to continuing these important conversations with the Newark community to make sure we are doing everything in our power to provide an excellent education for our children.”
Each ward meeting was hosted by community-based organizations – Ironbound Community Corp., Newark Fairmont Promise Neighborhood and the Urban League, La Casa de Don Pedro, United Way of Essex & West Hudson, and Strong Healthy Community Initiative – as well as the local ward council person who helped facilitate several small-group discussions. Parents, educators and community leaders were encouraged to share their feedback and insight on the following subjects: curriculum and academics; student supports; great educators; community engagement; school planning and choice; accountability for progress; and operations, budgets and governance.
Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins hosted the Central Ward strategic planning session with the United Way of Essex and West Hudson on Thursday, February 4th, and was present at the final share-out meeting. “I had the honor of hosting a strategic planning session in the Central Ward last month and saw community members come together to talk about the best strategies to improve our children’s education,” said Councilwoman Chaneyfield-Jenkins. “We heard from many parents that they would like to see qualified principals and teachers in every school and classroom, and I am confident that their feedback will be critical as we plan for the district’s long-term success.”
The district presented preliminary findings Thursday that incorporated feedback collected during the five strategic planning sessions. Findings included all the notes that were taken across the previous five meetings as well as early results from a survey the district distributed at those meetings. Some high-level priorities that came out of these meetings included:
- Academics and curriculum
- Humanities (literature, social studies), especially culturally relevant curriculum
- Student supports
- Social and emotional supports
- Safety, security and school culture
- Academic supports such as smaller class sizes, tutoring, guidance counselors
- Great educators
- Recognize and retain effective teachers and principals
- Strong processes for recruiting and supporting
- Coach, evaluate and provide feedback
- Community engagement
- Expand partnerships
- Support for English Language Learner (ELL) students and families
- Advocacy training for parents, community members
- School planning and choice
- Inform and involve community in decisions on school locations
- Ward-specific assessments and quality options
- Community schools: pilot and expand
- Accountability for progress
- Help parents analyze info, make informed choices
- Train district and school staff in using data for decisions
- Operations, budgets and governance
- Improve services (food, transportation, etc.)
- Update policies and train Board members
- Student-based funding
The district gathered feedback from community members on these initial findings, and will continue to collect community input over the next few weeks through focus groups, one-on-one meetings and the community survey, which will remain open until March 4th. When all of the information is collected, the district will share a document with a more robust outline of goals and priorities at the end of March. Once that document is shared, the district will engage in another round of feedback throughout the months of April and May, before sharing a final Strategic Plan in June.
For more information about the Strategic Planning Process please visit: http://www.nps.k12.nj.us/strategic-plan/.