The origin story of Canyons School District — a school system created in 2007 by a vote of the people — is as familiar, by now, as our track record in prioritizing college- and career-readiness, student achievement, innovation, community engagement, customer service and fiscal accountability.
It’s time to start writing the next chapter.
The Canyons Board of Education and Administration have begun an extensive process to review and enhance the District’s strategic vision and mission plan. To guide their work, they’ve hired the consulting firm Education Elements, which provided the Board on Tuesday, April 20 with an overview of the planning process and timeline.
The goal of the next six to eight months, explained Shelby McIntosh, Managing Partner of Education Elements, isn’t to create “a perfect plan, something static that hangs on your wall or sits on the shelf. It should be a living document.”
When you travel you take a map, not only to chart the best route to your destination, but to help you navigate any detours and roadblocks you encounter along the way. “We want people to walk away from this saying, ‘I have a roadmap for the next 5 to 10 years, but I also know there will be forks in the road, and now I have something to help me navigate that,’” McIntosh said.
Great effort will be made to involve the community, from students, parents, and local leaders to teachers and staff. “The best strategic plans are grounded in the needs of the community and priorities of the community,” McIntosh said. “We always strive for that, but we understand this is of special importance to Canyons.”
Listen in on Episode 17 of Connect Canyons to hear more strategic planning details from Shelby McIntosh.
Of equal importance is to ensure the District’s strategies align with what’s happening in the classroom.
The first three months, May through July, will mostly focus on studying the District and analyzing data. There may be some early surveying of stakeholders at this time. But the public input phase will really gain momentum in August and September when families and employees are in back-to-school mode. “We want to make sure we’re reaching out to our stakeholders when we have the best success for feedback,” McIntosh said.
Details about the timing of public focus groups, forums and Town Hall-type events will be communicated as they are finalized. The aim of these events will be to identify focus areas to serve as the pillars of the strategic plan. Teams, including subject-matter experts from both within and outside the District, will be assigned to each subject area to chart concrete goals and markers for measuring success. Their work will be based on “design thinking,” a mode of creative problem solving commonly used by startups in the tech industry, and it will be guided by a steering team. Regular progress reports will be shared with the Board of Education in public meetings.
“I’ve always referred to Canyons as a lighthouse district for how much it’s achieved in such a short period of time,” said Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins who joined CSD just over a year ago. “But just as we encourage our students to be lifelong learners, we should be committing to continuous improvement. This planning process will guide and orient us in that work, and will be a tool for clearly communicating our goals and progress.”