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    Loudoun schools superintendent suggests steps toward a clearer vision

    Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams proposed budget development principles and steps towards a strategic approach at the Sept. 16 school board work session. Courtesy photo
    When it comes to correcting blurry vision, glasses, contact lenses and corrective surgery top the list of options. For Loudoun County public schools, it's clarity from strategic planning.

    At the Sept. 16 school board work session, Superintendent Eric Williams presented a new approach toward decision-making in the county's public schools.

    It's called Vision 20/20, pointing toward a sharper focus in the school system both now and in the future.

    “It's about replacing a fuzzy vision with a clear vision,” said Williams. “That's what I see...Taking the individual visions that exist...and creating a collective vision...It's about moving forward to the year 2020 and beyond, but it's also about creating that clarity.”

    Williams hopes focused goals will aid in future choices and hurdles down the road, like the budget decisions for the 2016 school year.

    “We really think this is important to have a shared understanding of the direction of the school division,” said Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent. “We need some frameworks for identifying priorities and making decisions. As you look at the budget, if we had two or three goals we knew we were focusing on, it would be easier [to make those decisions].”

    Breeden presented a PowerPoint explaining what would go into the new vision.

    Phase one involves compiling information from the different sectors within the Loudoun school district, identifying who in the county has an interest in the schools and organizing meetings and information-gathering activities.

    Phase two revolves around the formation of a shared mission statement. Usually in one sentence, the mission informs the core beliefs that Breeden said are crucial to identify as a school district.

    Once the mission and beliefs are identified, stakeholders, which includes taxpayers, board members and parents, must pinpoint their goals as a district. Breeden used the phrase “strategic goals” to point to the development of an active strategy for working toward those goals and measuring success.

    The development of those strategic actions is phase three. A large part of this phase is creating a task force or design team whose focus rests on finding the best methods for achieving the schools' goals.

    Overall, school board members liked the Vision 20/20 process toward a new philosophy in Loudoun schools but want to begin a conversation with the Loudoun community before making any formal decisions.

    The Vision 20/20 proposed changes will be put forward formally to the board as an information item on the agenda for the next School Board meeting.

    “I think it does need to be an information item before it's put in as an action item to encourage feedback [from the community],” said LCPS Board Chairman Eric Hornberger.

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