EducationNews & Opinion

CMS Board Approves New Roadmap for Strategic Plan, Budget Priorities

The CMS Board poses in the chambers
The CMS Board of Education on Tuesday approved a set of goals and guidelines to steer the development of the district’s strategic plan. (Photo courtesy of CMS)

After six months of research and fine-tuning, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Board of Education on Tuesday approved its 2024-’29 Goals and Guardrails, setting a roadmap for the superintendent in creating the district’s 2024-’29 strategic plan and guiding CMS budget priorities during that time. 

Following a community listening and data analysis period, board members and district officials determined that literacy in grades K-8, Math 1, and post-secondary readiness will be the official priorities that guide the district’s plans, policies and budgets over the next five years, according to a CMS press release. 

The four approved goals were based on analysis of the district’s 2022-’23 student achievement scores, a community survey, and 22 community-listening sessions conducted by individual board members, during which they heard feedback from community members about the areas of highest need.

CMS stakeholders contributed 60,000 responses to the listening sessions and survey regarding development of goals and guardrails, four times the engagement rate for comparably sized districts, according to governance coach A.J. Crabill with the Council for the Great City Schools.

“We are grateful to the community for your engagement, and we are listening to you,” stated Board Chair Elyse Dashew in a release. “You have helped us to develop a clear set of expectations for our students. With the Board, CMS staff and the community rallying around and aligning to these clearly stated and monitored initiatives, the result will be continued and rapid improvement in student outcomes.” 

“I believe that by setting these clear expectations for the whole district … we are really setting up our students for a level of success that we haven’t seen in many years,” Dashew added during Tuesday’s meeting.

The goals were broken down into measurable metrics that the Board will monitor progress on during strategic monitoring conversations at meetings over the next five years:

  • Early Literacy: The percent of K-2 students scoring at or above benchmark in early literacy as measured by DIBELS will increase from 67% in June 2023 to 91% by June 2029. 
  • Grades 3-8 Literacy: The percent of students scoring college and career-ready (CCR) on reading end-of-grade assessments in grades 3-8 will increase from 30.5% in September 2023 to 50% by June 2029. 
  • Math 1: The percent of students scoring CCR (college and career ready) on Math 1 assessments will increase from 27.4% in September 2023 to 57% by June 2029. 
  • Postsecondary readiness: Increase the percentage of rising 12th-grade students who are on track to graduate from high school enrolled, enlisted or employed. Staff will develop recommendations for metrics and targets in the coming year. 

Along with the goals, the board set guardrails that aim to limit the superintendent’s ability to stray from the above-mentioned goals or otherwise negatively impact students in trying to achieve said goals. 

The four guardrails are as follows:

  • Equity over equality: While ensuring schools have the resources needed to meet the student needs, the superintendent shall not neglect strategies or resources for significantly reducing achievement gaps. 
  • Safety: The superintendent shall not allow an unsafe environment in schools, at school-related events or on transportation. 
  • Student Well-Being and Engagement: The superintendent shall not neglect social-emotional support, character development support, attendance support or access to enrichment activities that successfully engage students. 
  • Staffing: While ensuring all schools have teachers equipped to deliver high-quality instruction, the Superintendent shall neither neglect targeted nor comprehensive strategies for teacher recruitment, retention and engagement.  

CMS Superintendent Dr. Crystal Hill will likely begin presenting drafts of a new strategic plan in spring 2024, with a goal of presenting a new plan for approval that coincides with the district’s annual leadership conference in June of that year.  

Learn more: What’s in the CMS Bond Referendum?

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