District 203 looks at big picture plan for schools

<p>Dan Bridges  |  File photo</p>

Dan Bridges  |  File photo

The Naperville School District 203 Board got an update this week on Focus 203, the program to come up with a new strategic plan for the district.

“I see this district moving forward in all areas,” Superintendent Dan Bridges said, responding to a question about what the district would look like five years from now.

To move forward, Bridges outlined four specific areas of focus, including promoting learning for all students, an equitable high performance culture, providing effective stewardship of district resources and communication with the community.

For each area, the district has formulated goals and plans to achieve them, he said.

Bridges stressed that the plan was a framework that could be modified as needed and that each commitment would be assigned to a senior staff member, whose responsibility it would be to ensure progress.

Bridges said that by summer or early fall, the district would communicate directly to the public on the progress of Focus 203.

The district held public meetings in the past few months to get resident input on the plan.

Bridges stressed that the plan would remain faithful to the district’s mission statement, which includes producing students who are self-directed learners, collaborative workers and complex thinkers.

“The mission statement is alive and well and the focus of everything we do,” he said.

Board members pressed him to be a little more specific on how the district would improve in key areas like the achievement gap that exists for at-risk students.

“For all of us this is something that’s urgent,” School Board member Kristin Fitzgerald said.

She pointed out that English Language Learners were particularly susceptible to achievement issues.

“Schools need to be highly personalized,” Bridges said. “This is an issue best addressed through the school improvement plan.”

One step toward closing the achievement gap will be the implementation of all day kindergarten, he said, which will not only help at-risk students close the achievement gap with their peers, but is thought to be crucial in meeting the new, more rigorous standards of the Common Core initiative.

Bridges said that he envisioned a report to the community on the progress of Focus 203 on at least an annual basis.