By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools
Dear Knox County Schools’ Families,
The theme of this month’s Knoxville Parent is “Get Active!” To many of us, this conjures images of spending time outdoors with family, engaging in creative pursuits or perhaps even getting hands into the soil to plant a garden.
But “getting active” doesn’t just mean physical activity. It also can mean families meaningfully engaging as critical collaborators in our educational efforts. As our current five-year strategic plan sunsets, the Knox County Schools is in the process of creating the next iteration of the strategic plan, which will serve as a powerful guiding blueprint for how we continue to move our school system forward. We’ve asked our stakeholders what they believe our educational priorities should be…and what both the journey and the destination should look like for our district, our schools, our teachers and our students. We hosted 10 community forum meetings attended by almost 800 people, visited with nearly 700 students and held numerous “chatterbox” sessions and teacher meetings. All of these, plus a community survey—from which we received more than 6,000 responses—yielded a rich collection of ideas, suggestions and comments from you, education stakeholders.
It is this type of hearty stakeholder engagement that will help us produce the best learning opportunities for each and every child. While our goal is to complete and present a draft strategic plan to the Board of Education later this spring, some clear common themes are beginning to surface based on the feedback we have received:
Focusing on Every Student
Maintain rigorous academic standards but seek ways to individualize instruction, enrichment and supports for each of our more than 56,000 children.
Investing in People
Ensure our teachers and staff are valued, supported and are appropriately compensated for the enormously important work they do for children.
Partnering with Stakeholders
Enhance and strengthen efforts to open the lines of candid, collaborative two-way communication with stakeholders.
Embracing a Culture of Excellence
Embrace collective and collaborative engagement of stakeholders in high quality education rooted in a shared vision for high expectations, outstanding instruction, continuous improvement, mutual accountability and a constant focus on student learning.
“…getting active” doesn’t just mean physical activity. It also can mean families meaningfully engaging as critical collaborators in our educational efforts.”
I invite you to again take an opportunity to “get active” in the direction of the Knox County Schools by giving your feedback on the five-year strategic plan at our upcoming forum:
Strategic Plan “Town Hall” Meeting
Thursday, May 8, 2014
6 – 7:30 p.m.
Sterchi Elementary (900 Oaklett Drive)
Streamed live on knoxschools.org or watch live on Comcast Ch. 10 or ATT U-verse Ch. 99
At the forum, you will have an opportunity to see how the information gathered from the community over the past several months is reflected in planning for the next five years. You will be able to ask questions, seek clarity and provide feedback on the future direction of the Knox County Schools. For more information on our strategic planning process, please visit knoxschools2020.org.
Additionally, the Knox County Board of Education recently approved its fiscal year 2015 general purpose budget. This budget, which must be approved by the Knox County Commission, totals $432.335 million and includes a 2.5% base salary increase for teachers. Without a doubt, this budget would be a bit of a stretch for our community at a time when budgets are tight, but I believe a more competitive and professional level of compensation for our teachers will have a profoundly positive impact on our ability to retain and continue to attract outstanding educators to teach our children. Families can learn more about the school system budget by visiting knoxschools.org.
While this is undoubtedly a challenging fiscal landscape and a somewhat “no frills” budget, I am confident that this educationally-focused and student-centered budget will enable the Knox County Schools to sustain the strong academic progress our students have been making. You can “get active” in this budgeting process by sharing your thoughts with us or your local elected representatives on School Board and/or County Commission.
We are enjoying unprecedented levels of success in many areas in the Knox County Schools, and I recognize these results could not have been possible without the outstanding work of our teachers and staff coupled with the support and input of our parents and community. Talk about “getting active!” The many stakeholders in our educational system have done just that over the past five years, and I’m incredibly appreciative.
I hope to see you on May 8th at our Strategic Plan Town Hall Meeting. I’m excited about our future, and together, we will continue to work to achieve our very ambitious goal of Excellence for All Children.
Dr. Jim McIntyre
Superintendent, Knox County Schools