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July 24, 2013

Schools plan a GPS for future learning

DANVERS — A new strategic plan will act as the Danvers schools’ road map through 2018.

“As (School Committee member) Connie (Pawlak) says, this is our GPS for the next five years,” Superintendent Lisa Dana said about the plan the School Committee approved this spring.

This is the fifth strategic plan since 1989, according to a letter from the administration to residents. It differs from its most immediate predecessor in that it streamlines the number of goals and shortens the district’s mission statement to mirror that of Danvers High.

“In one sentence we can say what is the priority,” said Dana, of the new mission statement: “Danvers Public Schools is a dynamic community of independent learners dedicated to respect, responsibility, creativity and the pursuit of academic and personal excellence.”

It’s a statement that will be read at the start of School Committee meetings and that has been read aloud every morning to high school students by Assistant Principal Mark Strout, Dana said.

The new plan is also flexible in that it can accommodate new initiatives, such as an emphasis on advanced-placement courses or bullying prevention — both topics that came up within the last five years.

“This document for us over the last five years really became a living document because we used it,” she said. “I would reference it in meetings. I would reference it at graduation. It’s what we use for all of our planning.”

The strategic plan was hammered out over the past year by an administrative council, a steering committee, school committee members and a design team that included retired Newburyport Superintendent Mary Murray, a senior consultant of Future Management Systems Inc., Dana said. Murray brought an outside perspective to the district, drove the planning process forward and got the administration to work together, she said.

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