More than 30 stakeholders to help district develop strategic plan

Taft Union High School District officials are working with stakeholders to develop a strategic plan to guide the school district into the future. Three dozen teachers, classified members, administrators, trustees, students, parents and community members kicked off the process with a workshop Saturday, Jan. 11. Drs. Walter Buster and Sharon Brown-Welty from California State University, Fresno led the group.
The initial workshop focused on eight priorities: student achievement, student engagement, student outcomes, school climate, parental involvement, basic services, implementation of Common Core State Standards, and aligning the annual budget to goals.
The goal at the first workshop was to compile information from the participants as to how the District can better serve students. Next will be ranking the priorities identified by the groups. The committee will meet a few times during the year to help monitor the progress so they can add their input and guidance, explained Superintendent Blanca Cavazos. “We will go back and forth with the committee giving and receiving information to guide the future direction of the District.”
    Senior Lupita Lozano, who served as a translator, said, “I really liked it because they actually took our opinion into account and I didn’t expect that. They had good ideas but I would like them to be done, not just talked about. For instance, they said since Taft is a small town, students are not exposed to a lot of culture, but field trips get turned down. It was worthwhile. I would do it again.”
So would athletic assistant Cari Fivecoat. “To be honest, I was apprehensive about being involved and giving up my Saturday, but after the day was done I was glad I went and excited to see what happens next. It was truly an eye-opening experience, I believe, for everyone involved because there were opinions not just from board members and administrators but from our students, parents and the staff, who don't always get their words heard but have a voice that is equally important.”
English Department chairwoman Jackie Peavyhouse added, “Being able to collaborate with colleagues, students, administrators, board members, parents, and community partners to develop priorities and goals for the district was a positive experience. There is a lot of pride in our school and programs and the participants were passionate about exploring opportunities to increase student achievement and engagement, to improve our school climate, and to involve parents and the community to achieve our goals and meet our challenges.”    
 “We had a very open and honest conversation with good feedback. It’s just a beginning for us but a really good beginning,” Cavazos concluded.