Ukiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk: Strategic Planning Amid Fiscal Challenges

As our school district embarks on a journey to shape its educational focus for the next three years, we are excited to provide an update on the progress and challenges of this endeavor. The development of our district's strategic plan is not just a blueprint for academic excellence; it's a testament to the collaborative spirit that defines our community.

For nearly a year, diverse community members, including teachers, parents, students, and other local residents, have diligently worked in two key groups: the Guiding Coalition and the District Advisory Committee. Their dedication is evident in their thorough approach, reviewing student performance data, and conducting empathy interviews. These steps ensure that our strategic plan is not only data-driven but also deeply rooted in the real experiences and needs of our students and educators.

Our guiding groups have met several times, including recent sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. These meetings have been instrumental in shaping a working draft of the strategic plan, which will soon be presented to the Board for refinement and approval. Once this critical step is achieved, we will share the plan publicly, marking a significant milestone in our district's commitment to transparency and community involvement.

At the core of the strategic plan are nine carefully identified priorities, each designed to foster more equitable outcomes for our students. These priorities are not just statements of intent but are backed by specific actions to ensure that our students meet and exceed state performance averages. This focus on equity and excellence is more than a goal; it's a commitment from our district, giving us a clear path towards a hopeful future.

However, our path forward has its challenges. The Governor's preliminary budget, reflecting a staggering $38 to $68 billion deficit, casts a shadow of uncertainty over our financial landscape. This means that our district will likely face a budget smaller than this year's. In this climate of fiscal restraint, our strategic plan becomes not just a guide but a lifeline, directing our resources and decisions toward the most impactful areas.

One pressing issue that we must all focus on is student attendance. Across the nation, attendance rates have plummeted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In California, where funding is intricately linked to attendance, this decline has a dual impact: it hinders student performance and strains our financial resources. Addressing this issue is not just a matter of policy; it's a call to action for our entire community, requiring everyone's understanding, support, and engagement. We all have a role to play in this.

As we navigate these challenges, the strategic plan serves as a beacon, guiding our district through uncertain waters. The plan's emphasis on equitable outcomes and academic excellence remains steadfast, even as we make tough decisions in the face of budget realities.

The involvement of our community in this process cannot be overstated. The insights and perspectives of our teachers, parents, students, and community members are invaluable. Their voices have shaped the strategic plan, ensuring that it reflects the diverse needs and aspirations of our district.

The strategic plan, developed through collaboration and driven by a commitment to equity and excellence, outlines a path forward. Yet, it is the collective will and support of our community that will bring this plan to fruition. As we continue to refine and implement this strategy, we do so with an unwavering focus on improving the educational outcomes for all our students, ensuring that they not only thrive in our schools but also emerge as confident, competent, and compassionate members of society.

In the days and months ahead, we invite our community to stay engaged, offer feedback, and participate actively in this journey. Together, we can overcome the challenges we face and ensure a bright future for every student in our district!