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District’s New Strategic Plan Aligns with Northfield Promise Benchmarks

February 2, 2022

The Board of Directors of the Northfield Public Schools has adopted a new strategic plan that aligns with the Northfield Promise benchmarks. At its last regular meeting of 2021, on December 13, the board approved “Reaching Out, Reaching Up,” a plan that presents a vision for what the district aims to achieve, includes strategic commitments to guide decision-making for the next five years, and lists 11 benchmarks for judging progress.

The first seven benchmarks in the strategic plan align directly with the 10 Northfield Promise benchmarks, a set of “Cradle to Career” goals for kids’ academic and personal success. The additional district benchmarks address employee workplace satisfaction, parent satisfaction with the schools, the district’s financial stability, and the benefits of community education.

“It’s important to have a clear vision and clear strategic commitments, and I’m proud of the addition of the benchmarks,” said Superintendent Matt Hillmann. “When we listened to the community, they were all talking about things that go back to the Northfield Promise benchmarks, which the school district was part of developing, so it makes sense to be further aligning those benchmarks across organizations.”

This alignment of school district and community goals is considered the first of its kind among the StriveTogether Network partnerships.

The district’s new plan developed out of a series of 15 meetings over six months that sought input from various community stakeholders, including staff, students, families, and advisory groups. Meetings were translated into Spanish for Spanish-speaking residents, and one meeting was held in-person outside in the district office parking lot, to accommodate COVID concerns. The district’s previous strategic plan was adopted in October 2016.

“What is strong about this plan is that it has both academic and non-academic benchmarks. It’s a reflection of the community’s heightened awareness of the social and emotional needs of the students, which probably wasn’t as dominant in 2016,” said school board member Julie Pritchard, who served as board chair during the plan’s development.

Pritchard praised the process Hillmann led and said it allowed for honest conversations among a cross-section of community members about their goals, visions, and values.

“Having a new strategic plan does refocus and re-energize people in their work and bolsters the commitments we’ve long had,” she said. “This is a living document, not a strategic document that gets put into a binder and on a shelf. We are committed to it every single day we work on behalf of students and families.”

Newly elected board chair Claudia Gonzalez-George said the incorporation of the benchmarks reflects how much schools have changed over the years. The district is interested in seeing children succeed before they even enter kindergarten, and after they graduate from high school, and it also recognizes the important role caring adults in the community play in helping young people develop.

Gonzalez-George said the alignment of the school district’s plan with the Northfield Promise benchmarks is just one example of how organizations in Northfield are willing to work collaboratively to benefit everyone.

“Our different organizations can have almost competing energy, but instead, we have this lifting together by folks in same direction that I think is unique in this community, and I’m grateful for that,” she said.

 

Reaching Out, Reaching Up: the Northfield School District Strategic Plan

Vision: We prepare every student for lifelong success by developing critical thinkers who are curious and ready to engage in our society.

Strategic Commitments

  • People: We prioritize the engagement, satisfaction, and support of every student, staff member, and family.
  • Learner Outcomes: We prepare every student to be academically and socially ready to choose their preferred pathway after high school graduation.
  • Equity: We ensure that every child has a fair opportunity to reach their full potential.
  • Communication: We communicate effectively and transparently with all stakeholders.
  • Stewardship: We responsibly manage our personnel, finances, property, time, and environmental impact.
  • Partnerships: We seek community partnerships that accelerate student achievement of district benchmarks.

Benchmarks

  1. All children are ready for Kindergarten.

  2. All students are connected to the community.

  3. All students are at grade level in reading and mathematics by the end of 3rd and 6th grades.

  4. All students exhibit physical, social, and emotional well-being.

  5. All students have a connection with a caring adult beyond their parents as they transition to middle school.

  6. All students have interests, goals, and a vision for the future by the end of 8th grade.

  7. All students graduate from high school with a plan to reach their full potential.

  8. All employees report satisfaction in the workplace.

  9. All parents report satisfaction with their children’s educational experience.

  10. The district maintains 16% of its annual expenditures in its unassigned fund balance to ensure financial stability.

  11. Community education provides relevant and accessible learning opportunities for all residents.

Note: The first seven benchmarks are aligned with the language identified by Northfield Promise, a collective impact consortium of 20 community organizations committed to helping Northfield’s youth thrive “from cradle to career.”

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