Flint, MI—Flint Community Schools recently held a virtual public forum where district leaders asked community members for input on a revised strategic plan. 

A strategic plan is a “tool” that drives the district forward, but in recent years administration has not stayed true to FCS’s vision, Superintendent Anita Steward said.

“One of the things that I wanted to do was to look at what was in the strategic plan to make sure that it was applicable to what we were doing now. And if it wasn’t applicable to what we were doing now, I wanted it to be removed and I wanted us to revise the strategic plan,” she said. 

Since Jan. 2021, seven subcommittees comprised of FCS staff, students, parents, board members, and community stakeholders have worked to revise different sections of plan. Steward presented the changes to 40 attendees during the interactive session. 

“This truly could become a living document of how we do things in Flint Community Schools, and it could be shared with our staff, our parents, the community, and even the businesses within our team,” Steward said.

She encouraged participants to speak up and voice their opinions.

Several community members said they’d like to the district engage with parents more often.

“I was wondering if you had any plans to empower parents,” Flint resident Tiffany Charland asked. “Kids can get all this support at school, which is amazing, but if they go home and the mindset of the parents aren’t on the same level of being inspired and seeking an education for themselves, then maybe they won’t go as far as they could if they did have parents who were inspired themselves.” 

Community activist Claudia Perkins-Milton echoed Charland’s concerns and said she thought Flint students were not getting a proper education.

“I think we need to focus more on education—for real education—and give them what they need to face the world that we’re living in today and the future….I don’t think we’re there yet, I don’t think we’re getting there. A lot of times we just skim over where we need to be and we’re not hardcore in what we should be,” Perkins-Milton said.

The revised plan consisted of five priorities or tiers that set goals within different focus areas. (A breakdown of these priorities is below.)

The presentation also included the district’s “dream big” ideas. Highlights included:

  • Build five new, state-of-the-art elementary schools
  • Include a sensory room in each building to support special education students
  • Create kinesthetic classrooms, or classrooms designed to support learning through physical activity rather than through lecture 
  • Transform Northwestern High School into a community facility  
  • Reestablish a curriculum and programs surrounding the arts 
  • Become wellness-focused with activities to support the health of employees and community members with updated pool and workout room 

Attendees were then split into breakout rooms where they further discussed their ideas and captured them in a shared document. Steward said administration will review all suggestions and for consideration within the strategic plan. 

Longtime Flint resident, FCS graduate, and community activist Gina Luster said she was sad to admit it, but she doesn’t send her daughter to Flint Schools.

“I am going to be honest: I know what I had and it’s not there anymore, so I wasn’t willing to risk that with my daughter’s education. And that’s sad, because I would love for my daughter to say, ‘I went to the same elementary school or high school that my mom went to,’…but, somewhere, the board just let all of this value and wealth and legacy just, excuse my French, go to hell. We got to fix it. And it can be fixed. But we got to have the right people with the right passion,” Luster said. 

Overall, attendees said the forum was a positive and valuable experience. 

A follow-up session will be scheduled and details are forthcoming, FCS officials said. In the meantime, FCS is developing a strategic plan feedback section on their website to allow others to share their input. 

Here are the district’s five priorities;

Priority One: Scholar Focus 

The district will work to support the development of the whole child. There are four primary “parts” to address this need.

  1. Facilities: Buildings and classrooms must “work” for scholars 
  2. Staffing: FCS will ensure they have the “right” adults on staff to care for the child and ensure they have support 
  3. Systems and Curriculum: The district will use a data-driven approach to guide scholars towards success 
  4. Community Education: Implement complete “wraparound” services that enable scholars to succeed. 

Priority Two: Teaching and Learning 

The district plans to set high expectations for teaching and learning outcomes by: 

  1. Aligning curriculum and assessments both vertically and horizontally
  2. Enhancing and expanding instructional programming
  3. Developing and maintaining data driven processes that improve instruction
  4. Evaluating and choosing a data system to measure student growth
  5. Prioritizing and allocating time for Professional Learning Communities 
  6. Providing comprehensive professional development for all staff
  7. Creating 21st Century teaching and learning expectations

Priority Three: Culture and Climate 

The district will strive to improve scholar and staff relationships by increasing parent involvement through event attendance and survey data, prioritizing scholar and staff safety, and by retraining current students while attracting new ones. 

Priority Four: Staffing 

The district will attract and retain high-quality, motivated staff. This will be accomplished with ongoing support and professional development opportunities, engaging in “leadership academies” for future and existing administrators, and cultivating talent from within the district. 

Priority Five: Finance 

Fiscal resources will be dedicated to support quality teaching and learning while exercising fiscal responsibility and restraint. The district will effective communicate and educate all stakeholders on the finances of the district and continually evaluate all outsourced services. 

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...

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