February 13, 2019

CCSD Updates Strategic Plan

City Dope

Superintendent Demond Means.

The Clarke County School District has updated its two-year strategic plan with an eye toward accentuating the positive and using data to direct resources, Superintendent Demond Means told school board members at a work session last week.

The document includes six priorities—academic growth, social/emotional growth, organizational effectiveness, fiscal health, professional capacity and education equity—and breakdowns of how much students at each of the district’s 21 schools are improving academically. For example, Gaines Elementary, which recently landed on a state list of 100 “failing” schools, has shown marked improvement this year, Means said. But district officials also found some disturbing data: Students in special education or who are male, black or homeless are disproportionately likely to be disciplined. Black males make up about 25 percent of district students but 50 percent of disciplinary incidents.

A town hall meeting to gather input from parents on the strategic plan (available here) is scheduled for 10 a.m.–noon Saturday, Mar. 2 at the H.T. Edwards building.

CCSD is also surveying teachers who sign contracts for the next school year to find out why they chose to stay in or come to Athens, as well as conducting exit interviews with those who leave to address high turnover among teachers, Means said. The district had to replace about 20 percent of its teachers last year.

Recruiting and retaining teachers is a national problem. In 1975, education majors made up 25 percent of college students, but today, they’re less than 5 percent, Means said. “This is a competitive industry,” he said, and teaching at CCSD “presents a unique challenge.” While some board members and parents have been pressing Means to hire more minority teachers—the district’s students are about three-quarters black and Hispanic—he said CCSD’s group of teachers is already “very diverse” compared to others.

Means also asked the board to approve two specific personnel moves at its Feb. 14 voting meeting. He wants to hire Dexter Fisher, director of UGA’s Facilities Management Division, as associate superintendent for district services, replacing the retired Ted Gilbert and interim replacement John Gilbreath. And he wants to hire Brannon Gaskins for the newly created position of chief academic officer. As executive director of the Fulton County Achievement Zone, Gaskins is in charge of turning around a group of 10 underperforming schools in South Fulton.