Many of us – myself included – shudder at the prospect of another “planning document” that sits in a three-ring binder on an office shelf. It’s unfortunate that the function of planning in any organization (but especially in public education) is viewed as an end unto itself.  A strategic plan that guides the actions of our staff and subsequent learning outcomes for our students should be more than “art on the shelf.”  At our Board of Education Meeting on January 11, 2018, the central office administrative team and I presented the community’s shared vision for the next three years and our expected outcomes for our students.  In short, our discussion answered the question, in plain language, “what will the South Orangetown Central School District look like in the months ahead?” Also, “what visible metrics will help us to understand if we have reached our goals?”    

What to Expect

Below, please find a few sample outcomes of that we expect to achieve during the term of our strategic plan.  Some of these indicators are in the process of completion, and other outcomes will take more time.  As our school district moves forward with implementing the three-year strategic plan, the following are a few key “mileposts” to look for:

  • Development of the Family Resource Center as a robust resource for strengthening home-school partnership
  • Redesigned classroom spaces and facilities enhancements, starting this summer, to include the Cottage Lane Elementary School library, South Orangetown Middle School auditorium and makerspace/tech labs, and Tappan Zee High School wrestling room and main gym bleachers. We have also formed a subcommittee of community stakeholders to review the replacement of turf at our high school and stadium upgrades
  • Exploration of student-focused scheduling at Tappan Zee High School and South Orangetown Middle School
  • Expand recruitment pool with an annual district career fair for prospective applicants
  • The launch of Anonymous Alerts, a third-party tool for students and families districtwide to report safety threats

In a few weeks, every household in the South Orangetown Central School District will receive a summary of the SOCSD Strategic Plan in the mail.  It is my hope that you will read this document and participate in the public process of local control of our system of education.  This can be accomplished by attending board of education meetings, volunteering in one our school events, voting on our annual school budget, asking questions or making suggestions about how to improve our schools.  A copy of this plan will also be published on our website in a few weeks.  The bottom line is that a strategic plan is only as good as its ability to help us accomplish our vision for our children and our stated mission which is:

“In a rapidly changing world, the South Orangetown school community affirms its positive vision of the future by providing a safe and caring environment where the excitement of teaching and learning is shared by all, and where we encourage and nurture the uniqueness of each child. Through diverse and challenging programs, we promote high academic standards, creative and critical thinking, self-respect and respect for others, and acceptance of our responsibilities in a global society. We are committed to fostering a love of learning in our students.”

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