SOCSD Board OKs strategic plan

Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees members Debra Prince, left, and Sumner Davis work during the school board meeting Tuesday night. The board approved the district's new five-year strategic plan. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

After months of vision, planning and work, the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District has unveiled its new five-year strategic plan.

The plan covers five areas, including achievement, school culture, human resources, community collaboration and operational effectiveness. The plan was unveiled in a video featuring district and other local officials including Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill. After the video, administrators read the actions the district would take under each point. The plan was approved 3-0 by the board, with President Lee Brand
Jr. and Vice President John Brown absent. The plan has been under construction since early 2018, with a stakeholder group regularly meeting to discuss and work on the plan. The plan will be revisited annually to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments. The planning process officially began with a community survey in December 2017. The board approved a draft strategic plan in February.

The plan is based on seven core beliefs.

The district believes excellent public schools are the heart of a thriving community, excellent teachers are critical for student success, diversity is a strength, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity cultivate lifelong learners, quality education fosters leadership and develops good citizens, schools must be safe, welcoming and respectful to all and engaging families and community is vital to each students growth.

“You did it right,” Impact Ed Group consultant James Hutto said. “You involved the community. We always say that you do strategic planning for two reasons. First of all, you need a plan. You want to know where you’re going and have some goals, and secondly, you need to involve the community, and that’s what you did. I’m really pleased with that.”

Hutto said the 35-member stakeholder group was the largest he had worked with for a strategic plan.

Superintendent Eddie Peasant said the document would require some minor tweaks after approval, mainly in the area of grammar corrections. However, the substance would not be changed.

“You will see this plan, or parts of this in everything that we do,” Peasant said. “It won’t be out on the shelf. This will be our guide. We poured a lot of time and resources into this.”

Hutto emphasized the importance of the district sticking to the plan. Board member Keith Coble expressed a similar sentiment.

“I’ve been through these exercises many times in many places, and the vast majority I’ve been involved in got put on the shelf,” Coble said.

The district determined its need for a new strategic plan following consolidation and the hire of Peasant as superintendent.


The board also approved an administrative change. Effective immediately, Overstreet Elementary School Principal Tim Bourne will serve as the district’s director of accountability, accreditation and assessment. Starkville High School Lead Teacher Cynthia Milons will serve as interim principal of Overstreet. Bourne has worked in the district since 2001, first serving as a science teacher. In addition to being principal of Overstreet, Bourne has also led Armstrong Middle School. Milons joined the district in 2009, first as an English teacher.

“Their strengths as administrators make them uniquely qualified for these positions,” Peasant said.

The board also took no action on the approval of fundraising for a new stadium jumbotron. The decision followed a presentation by Daktroinics representatives. A similar measure was tabled at the board’s June 19 meeting.

The board also heard a presentation from Apple representatives on the district moving towards the rental of several Apple devices to be used by students and teachers.

Additionally, the board set Aug. 7 as the date for the required public budget hearing. The district’s 2018-2019 budget is scheduled to be approved at the board’s regular August meeting on Aug. 14.