CASE STUDIES

Award Winner

Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Service: Strategic Planning, Multi-Stakeholder Facilitation
Size: 5000 employees, 38,000 students served

Challenge

Adams sought to engage their community to identify and agree upon district priorities for a five-year strategic plan. With Colorado ranking in the lower half of states on per student funding, and Adams 12 ranking 8th next to 10 similar districts across the Front Range, they wanted to know: What is the community willing to pay for? Should the Board of Education seek additional resources fund these priorities?

Solution

Across eight months, RMCPC and Adams used Appreciative Inquiry to design and facilitate an engaged community initiative. We integrated multiple outreach channels (interviews, conversations, school forums, and online surveys) to engage 7000 English and Spanish-speaking parents, students, community members, administrators, teachers and district staff. We asked four key questions:

  1. What are our strengths?
  2. What are our hopes and dreams for student success?
  3. What big ideas do we have to get us where we want to go?
  4. What are our priorities?

We then facilitated the Elevate Summit, a one day event involving 230 community members and identified the top five priorities which became the foundation of the strategic plan.

Results

The Adams 12 Elevate process produced:

  • District-wide priorities: More than 7000 people participated to generate six priorities for the District:
    1. 21st Century Learners
    2. Diverse Learning
    3. Outside-the-Classroom Learning
    4. Safe Schools
    5. Social-Emotional Learning
    6. World-Class Staff
  • Plan approval by the Board of Education - The Board approved the plan unanimously and highlighted its inclusivity and quality.
  • Funding support - Voter in the District approved a $27 million levy override to jump-start action on priorities.
  • Individual schools plans to implement Elevate. Specific improvements include reduced class size, increased salaries for teachers, teacher leadership training, additional counselors and social workers, expanded pre-school, safety enhancements, updated technology.
  • Regular updates on the status of programs and initiatives via multiple vehicles like posters, websites, planning conversations
  • Support for continued engagement through the “Share a New Strength Story” video promo
  • Using Appreciative Inquiry in District meetings and new planning processes
  • Integration of ELEVATE into new employee orientation
  • Launch of an Accountability Committee to monitor plan progress

Getting authentic community voice is one of the hardest but most important things you can do in a school district. Taking a risk to try a unique and inspiring process meant we did not just hear from a narrow slice of our community, but included and acted upon different voices that are not always heard.

Kathy Plomer
Adams 12 5-Star Schools, Board of Education President

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