In the upcoming months, the Bunceton School District will begin the process of establishing a strategic plan to guide our decision-making and to establish a direction to help achieve our goals. The district's current Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) was established during a period when the No Child Left Behind law was heavily influencing how plans would be organized. The CSIP was categorized to include five areas of focus: Student Achievement; Highly Qualified Teachers; Instructional Resources, Facilities and Support Services; Parent and Community Involvement; and Governance. Now, though the same basic structure is utilized, schools can give considerably more consideration to the strengths and needs of the district, rather than simply engaging in a simple act of compliance. Consequently, the CSIP becomes a living document through which a truly meaningful planning process is developed to meet the district and community's specific needs.

In the Bunceton School District, we will continue to focus on high student achievement, because it is the heart of what we do on a daily basis. However, we also believe that student achievement goes well beyond student assessment scores on the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) and EOC (End of Course) tests. Likewise, we understand that the ACT, while a good measure of college readiness, does not serve as a measure of future success for all students. The teachers and administrative staff have truly cared about student progress, and been engaged in a great number of discussions surrounding what skills students need to possess to be successful in the future. Recently, I asked a few local business owners what skills or knowledge they needed students to know or be able to do in order to work for them. Interestingly enough, many of them rarely mentioned academic aptitude. In fact, they stated that the more personal characteristics such as dependability, basic communication skills, the ability to work with others, and the ability to learn from criticism as the main skills needed for employability. Therefore, in our long-range planning, moving to a standards-based grading system would include additional measures of "soft skills" as an employability standard. District teachers would begin to include lessons in the primary and middle school to address characteristics such as responsibility, attitude, problem-solving, communicating effectively, and initiative, to help students achieve this standard. Of course this is just one example of how we can develop a CSIP plan that addresses the needs of students here at Bunceton, and takes into consideration the community in which we live. Naturally we recognize that our students need to do well on state tests because it is a good indicator of strong academic skills. We simply believe that it is not enough to have the knowledge without the supporting "soft skills" characteristics that help develop well-rounded, college and career ready students.

In order to realize the success we strive for in student achievement, we have to be a district that attracts the best teachers and staff members. We have to hire the best and create a work environment that encourages those great leaders of young people to stay in our district. Our strategic plan will certainly include plans to attract and retain the best possible people to serve our community of learners. We must also ensure that the resources and technology utilized by students is aligned to the Missouri Learning Standards, and that teachers are using those resources with fidelity.

Additionally, we must ensure a safe and structurally sound physical facility which will serve students well now and in the future. By addressing minor issues today, we will assure students of a sound educational environment tomorrow. The level of commitment and determination exhibited by the teachers, administrators, and staff currently employed here at Bunceton is inspiring! It is through their dedication that this plan will be successful. The key for continued district success is to keep these outstanding educators in our district to serve the next group of students. The Bunceton School District must be a place where students want to attend, and teachers want to work. Therefore, the CSIP plan will also include goals to help create a collaborative professional learning community (PLC) where all teachers have a voice and administrators willing to listen.

The Bunceton School District is committed to becoming a shining example of excellence in mid-Missouri. The strategic plan will be developed with that goal in mind. We are looking forward to the day when we will celebrate our successes, both large and small, as we promote our mission of high student achievements and college and career readiness. We are excited for the community to share in the development of this plan, and to feel a collective sense of pride and accomplishment. The strategic plan will be our road map which will guide our journey to reaching our collective goals. We encourage all our students, staff, and stakeholders to come along on this journey to success and celebrate our accomplishments along the way. Look for examples of great progress on our website and Facebook page.