Midway through 6-year strategic plan, WSD checks in

School district will host public listening posts in March and April to reflect on plan’s progress, future needs

The condition of the well-worn piece of paper that hangs on one of the walls of Les Brown’s office at the Washougal School District administration building serves as an indication of just how much he refers to the district’s most recent strategic plan.

“I’d like to point out that the copy has a big (portion) on the top that’s missing, and that’s because I’m always tearing it off the wall to look at it,” Brown, the district’s director of communication and technology, said during the district’s virtual work session on Tuesday, Feb. 8. “(Superintendent) Mary (Templeton is) smart — she has hers where she can just grab it. I have mine pinned to the wall so I can see it. It is super useful to have (a list of priorities) that came from the public.”

“My dog-eared copy used to be on my wall, but it ripped so many times that I took it down and now keep it to the side of my computer,” Templeton replied.

When district leaders adopted the plan in June of 2019, they indicated that they wanted it to be a “living document,” something that could evolve over time. Three years later, they’re staying true to that promise by kicking off a “mid-point check-in” process for the plan, posting a survey on its website and scheduling “listening post” sessions, to be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, and Wednesday, April 20, and 10 a.m. on Friday, April 22.

“The first listening post will be via Zoom, and patrons who would like to be part of this opportunity will find information about it on the district website, which is where we will post the link to join via Zoom,” Brown told the Post-Record. “We plan to post the link early next week. We haven’t made a decision on the (April sessions), and will communicate the venue and how the meetings will take place the week before the meetings take place.”

The check-in process offers the district an opportunity to “pause and reflect” on its previous accomplishments and future goals, according to Brown.

“We’ll focus on the progress that we’ve made and adjustments in the plan so that we can continue the really important work,” Brown said during the workshop session. “We’ll come back to the board, probably at the late May meeting, with some recommendations on revisions to the plan based on what we’ve heard from community members, students, staff and parents.”

The district developed its most recent six-year plan after receiving feedback from hundreds of community members during the 2018-19 school year.

“Partnering with district families, community, and our excellent staff, we have seen great success at meeting the goals the community asked for,” according to a news release, which highlighted the district’s ability to attract and retain “excellent, regionally and state recognized” staff members; iits college and career readiness programs; its near 90-percent on-time graduation rate; its dual language and transitional kindergarten programs; and its equity work.

“When you think about the fact that we’re at the midpoint of our six-year plan and that COVID has impacted two-thirds of that time, we have made some incredible accomplishments and achieved some tremendous successes using this plan as the overarching pathway for success,” Brown said.

The district is implementing its mission statement — to know, nurture and challenge all students to rise — that came out of its strategic planning process in 2018 and 2019, according to Templeton.

“(The strategic plan) really is a document that’s informing us because within it is the promise that we made,” she said. “We made a promise that we wanted to make sure that all 3,000 of our children — that’s really what equity is — have a bright future. I’m eager to hear from our families (about) how they are doing and the feedback that they have. We are very open to any of the feedback — the compliments and also the places where we can improve. We’ve been really transparent about that.”