School District Introduces New Strategic Plan in Community Engagement Session

Claire Guttormson, Writer

Following the passing of the new district Strategic Plan by the school board in August, the Wauwatosa School District and Superintendent Demond Means held a community engagement session on Tuesday, September 16th. 

The session drew approximately 20-25 concerned members of the community to the Fisher Administrative Building and provided space for the asking and answering of questions regarding the three year plan. 

“My hopes for the implementation of this plan is that it is efficient, that it is thorough, and that we do what we say we’re going to do,” said Means. 

The plan was derived from listening sessions last fall which led to surveys and the gathering of a steering committee of community members in the Spring of this year. 

The strategic plan includes revised mission statement, vision statement, and core values, and follows six strategic goals: Academic Performance; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility; Social, Emotional, and Mental Health; High-Quality Staff; Culture and Community; Operations. 

The idea is that by limiting the time frame for this strategic plan, the district will be forced to be vigilant in adhering to it. Means explained that the district wanted to assure that this plan was not simply aspirational, but measurable and achievable. 

“The strategic plan is for three years, the policy will outlive it,” said School Board President Eric Jessups-Anger during the August 17th School Board Meeting at which the Board  “There’s [the matter of] who we are as a district and who we aspire to be.”

Several of the strategic objectives under each goal include deadlines for their achievement. The district has committed itself to implementing a structure for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) training by the fall of this year, complete all special education audit recommendations by August 2023, and develop strategies to address the needs of Black and Brown students by October of 2022. 

Under each objective are key performance indicators measurements so that the district can track their progress on goals and hold themselves accountable. Means hopes that community members will do the same. 

“Students should hold us responsible,” said Means, “they should read this plan as well and see that we’re striving to have a better, more vibrant school district as a result of the plan and hold us responsible when it’s not happening in your school. Tell us.”

Some points of concern raised in the engagement session related to a lack of support for families of students with IEPs as well as disappointment in the Special Education and Gifted and Talented programs, both of which saw employee turnover in the last year. 

The district’s controversial new Human Growth and Development curriculum was also brought up, however this curriculum has no relation to the Strategic Plan. 

Dr. Means expressed hope and optimism about the plan throughout the evening, believing that this plan could lead the district to be a better place for their students to learn and grow.

“When you look at the milestones and all the different strategic objectives, it’s about us continuing to improve. And when we continue to improve that means students have a better experience,” said Means.