St. Paul School System Launches ‘Contract with the Community’


School district has a new five-year Strategic Plan … Earlier this month, the St. Paul public schools system unveiled its new budget for 2007-2008. The $629 million budget plan, called the Strategic Plan for Continued Excellence, was based on recommendations from both the outside consulting firm Education Resource Strategies and input from the public.

The school district identifies the five-year Strategic Plan as “the district’s contract with the community.”

There are several provisions in the budget, including:
*Providing in-class coaches for teachers rather than sending them to outside workshops and trainings, which take away from time in the classroom.
*Identifying students considered as having special needs and redesigning curriculum to fit their needs.
*Providing mentoring programs for disadvantaged students.
*Measures to improve classroom attendance.

Although the plan was based on strategies that have been successful in other communities, it also incorporated input gathered at several public meetings. The meetings included sessions in Hmong, Somali and Hispanic neighborhoods with school board members present. The public feedback process will continue throughout the life of the plan.

Unlike the previous three-year budget, which only evaluated the effectiveness at the end of those three years, the new five-year plan has set benchmarks that will be evaluated during the five years and it allows for corrections or adjustments. The public input component of the evaluation process will begin this fall.

Although the plan is slated to go until 2011, the school district is aiming to meet the 2014 goals mandated by the No Child Left Behind legislation, which sets that year as the target for all schools to be at 100 percent in every educational category.

“We have a board and a superintendent who I think are very committed to making change for our kids,” said Lois Rockney, St. Paul Schools business officer. “We are all willing to say that this is important for our kids,” she added, “and if we don’t make the change now, then we miss that opportunity for the students who are here now, and we can’t do that. We’re willing to make a change right now. I think that’s really positive. That’s the commitment of the entire administration.

“This is our plan and we really want to make this work for all of our kids.

More details about the Strategic Plan may be viewed at the St. Public Public Schools website: