During the 2017-18 school year, Greenville County Schools (GCS) undertook a comprehensive revision of its Strategic Education Plan. The purpose of this plan is to ensure we meet the needs of our students and help them develop the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to society. We also focused on building a plan that is reflective of this community’s expectations for academic achievement, career preparedness, and social development.
South Carolina Education Department regulations state that districts’ strategic plans “must establish priorities and prioritize efforts to focus on raising student achievement levels for all students, the prevention of academic problems, and reducing the achievement gaps identified on the annual report card.” The regulation goes on to say that the plan “must be developed collaboratively by a broad-based group of stakeholders using a consensus process.”
Much of November, December, and January of the last school year was spent collecting and analyzing input from a broad spectrum of GCS stakeholders. In all, about 1,300 stakeholders contributed feedback via community forums or district-designed surveys. Additionally, 71,000 students, staff, parents, and teachers participated in surveys about the culture and climate of our schools.
To further the input process, a 60-person stakeholder team made up of representatives from business and industry, the non-profit sector, elected officials, students, PTA and School Improvement Councils, teachers, administrators, law enforcement, clergy, health care, civil service, and higher education spent two full days providing invaluable feedback into developing new vision, mission, and belief statements. They also studied district initiatives, test scores, forum responses, and survey data before recommending to the Board of Trustees priority focus areas on which the strategic plan should center.
The result of all this work, as well as a review of strategic plans from high performing districts across the country, research into meaningful measures of progress, hours of dialogue and collaboration, and months of effort by the Administration, Board of Trustees, community leaders, and five Action Teams, is the new GCS Strategic Plan, branded Blueprint 2023. Approved in May, implementation of the new plan began in July.
Vision statements are meant to express in simple terms a desired outcome. The new Greenville County vision statement is, “Students inspired, supported, and prepared for their next opportunities in life, education, and employment.” A mission statement gives more detail, showing how an organization will work to achieve its vision. The new GCS mission statement is, “We build college- and career-ready graduates by connecting students to engaging classes and meaningful experiences that cultivate world-class knowledge and skills, while developing character, leadership, and citizenship.”
Once the vision and mission were established, work began on developing a plan that would move our district toward fulfilling its vision. In doing so, the Board of Trustees adopted six priority focus areas, strongly influenced by input from our stakeholders. They are:
- Improve Reading Performance – Enhance focus on early literacy and K-8 reading
- Improve Classroom Environment – Provide more hands-on learning, reduce class sizes, and decrease teacher burdens
- Provide Excellent Teachers and Principals – Recruit, develop, and retain high quality teachers and school leaders
- Increase Choice Options – Offer more educational options, approaches, and pathways for students and families
- Expand Whole Child Supports – Promote student well-being in the learning process by increasing mental health supports and teaching social, emotional, and life skills.
- Expand Graduation Plus – Provide comparable support and equitable opportunities across multiple pathways for students, whether preparing for four-year college or seeking career and technical expertise
We know Blueprint 2023 is a reflection of the educational priorities of Greenville County’s residents because we asked for and received community input every step of the way. As this plan is implemented over the next five years, we will return to the community for further direction and discussion about what is working and what is not. Together we will continue to Build a Better Graduate and ensure the future success of our families and community. For more information on Blueprint 2023, read our Strategic Plan e-book!
Strategic Plan e-book