Survey results help Pr. George’s school officials formulate strategic plan

Prince George’s County school chief Kevin Maxwell plans to make improving students’ reading and math skills — a top priority identified by parents, students and school employees — a key element to turning around the school system.

Almost 35 percent of school employees and 25 percent of parents, students and community members who responded to a school system survey said academic achievement or student learning should be a major element of Maxwell’s strategic plan for the district.

Deputy Superintendent Shawn Joseph presented the survey findings and the strategic plan process to the Board of Education on Thursday.

Joseph said the administration has been deliberative in designing a plan that is “understandable, focused and cohesive.”

Joseph said board members have asked how the strategic plan will be different from other efforts to improve the school system.

“We have a CEO that is determined for us to be ‘Great by Choice,’ ’’ Joseph said, referring to a book that looks at why some companies thrive during chaotic times while other companies do not. It has become required reading among senior staff members.

Board members said they were pleased to hear that there would be a focus on literacy but raised some concerns about how the district planned to measure its accomplishments.

School system officials said staff will work over the summer on the strategic plan.

“We’re not coming to you rushing with a plan just to say we’re doing something . . . because we’ve to get this right,” Joseph said.

The district survey polled 1,600 parents, students and other members of the community. It also polled 1,600 school system employees.

Sixteen percent of the parents, students and other members of the community who responded to the survey said recruiting and retaining qualified staff was the greatest challenge facing the school system over the next three years.

Fourteen percent of the system employees who responded agreed that recruitment and retaining of qualified staff was a top priority.

The next biggest challenge, according to the community, was maintaining current technology, which received 11 percent of the vote. Employees ranked meeting students’ academic and social needs as the second biggest challenge, with 10 percent of the vote.

Both groups said that the district should make competitive salaries and benefits its top financial priority. Employees said lowering class size should be the second priority.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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