PORT ALLEN — At the urging of Superintendent Wesley Watts, West Baton Rouge Parish school administrators and School Board members are working in tandem on a five-year strategic plan aimed at getting the school district recognized as one of the top 10 in the state by 2020.
Watts says the school system will do so by inspiring academic excellence through high-quality instruction and strengthening the moral character of its students, according to a comprehensive “Vision Plan” he unveiled to board members, school officials and community leaders at Wednesday’s School Board meeting.
“I’m a believer in developing the whole student,” Watts said. “We just want to narrow our focus on what we’re doing.”
Watts’ presentation is one of his first major initiatives since becoming superintendent last year following the retirement of David Corona, who served as the administrative head of the school system for 10 years.
Watts was the principal of Zachary High School for four years before accepting the West Baton Rouge post.
Watts’ vision for the school system involves a five-pronged approach: academics, personnel, finances, facilities and transportation.
The superintendent created five committees, headed by administrators and including board members, each focusing on one of the five areas. Those committees will develop a strategic plan that includes goals and a time line to attain them and pulling together a comprehensive current snapshot of the school district.
Watts said the work toward the plan began at a retreat he and the School Board attended on Nov. 8 when many of the Vision Plan’s core principles were first adopted.
Board president Jason Manola said the board is throwing its support behind what Watts is trying to accomplish.
“We also share the same vision with the administration and we appreciate that he finds our input valuable,” Manola said.
The West Baton Rouge Parish School District has been on a path to becoming an A-graded school system.
Within the last seven years, West Baton Rouge school district’s performance score climbed from an 81.1, or C grade, to 91.1, or B grade, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s annual district performance reports.
“We know we want to be an A school district but it’s going to require most of our students learning on the master level,” Sharon Lair, associate superintendent of instruction and chairwoman of Watts’ academics committee, said Wednesday night.
School officials said they are aware they’ll need to focus on teacher pay and retention as well and take measures to maintain the district’s financial security to implement any measures the transportation and buildings committees may outline.
The superintendent hopes to have the five-year strategic plan pulled together by June 30.
“This is going to give our kids confidence and make them feel better when they leave our district,” Watts said. “I believe great people with a clear purpose will give results that are unmatched.”
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