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Bedford County Public Schools seeks community input on development of new strategic plan

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Bedford County is working to revise its five-year-old public schools strategic plan, and school officials hope this will be a collaborative process.

The division’s current strategic plan — which outlines the vision, mission, values and goals of the school system — was adopted in November 2016.

Superintendent Marc Bergin said it’s time for a new plan for several reasons, but mainly because the current plan was written before the COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted education. Bergin said addressing unfinished learning and the social and emotional needs of the division’s students, staff and families needs to be prioritized in this new context.

Since joining the division six months ago, Bergin has engaged stakeholders and met with staff, parents and community members, seeking their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses in the division. In a presentation to the Bedford County School Board during its Thursday night meeting, Bergin said he plans to take what he’s learned from those conversations and seek more input to inform the construction of a new strategic plan.

“The process for creating a strategic plan is as important as the plan we would produce itself,” Bergin said.

Going into the strategic planning process, Bergin presented five focus areas he thinks should stay at the center of the conversation: investing in staff; accelerating unfinished learning; expanding college and career opportunities; addressing social and emotional wellness; and boosting equitable educational opportunities in the division.

“These five big areas, I believe nearly everyone is going to rally behind those,” Bergin said in an interview with The News & Advance.

Bergin said he hopes to see the community come together, find the common purpose and shared goals, and lean on them.

A new strategic plan is set to be in place around the end of the 2021-22 school year. First, the division will assess the current strategic plan, and seek input from stakeholders through an online survey.

School board chair Jason Johnson said community members, not just parents to current students, should offer their feedback as well. Bergin agreed, saying feedback from faith leaders, business owners, grandparents and other community members would be welcome.

“Because we all have stakes in what happens in our schools, regardless,” Johnson said.

In January, Bergin said, he will present to the board, based on that feedback, either the existing or revised vision, mission and core values statements for approval.

Then, the more detailed work will begin, he said. With help from teachers, staff and community members, the division will outline goals for the strategic plan to be approved in February, before those various groups begin working together to outline a plan and resources needed to implement the goals.

A draft strategic plan is set to be presented in May, discussed in a virtual town hall in May and June, and adopted by the board in June, so administrators and teachers can begin implementation work ahead of the 2022-23 school year.

A link to the input form, as well as the current strategic plan, can be found on Bedford County Public Schools’ website.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9.

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