CCSD plan needs more details, new board member says

Jan. 19—MARIETTA — Even as district staff insisted that Cobb County School District's strategic plan was distinct from data tracking student success, one of the Cobb school board's newest members pushed back.

That was evident as John Floresta, the district's chief strategy and accountability officer, presented the 2023-2028 strategic plan at the board's work session Thursday.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said the plan is a "roadmap" to the district's future success, though it does not include measurable data, something he and Floresta said come from accountability systems at the state level.

"It's based on continuous improvement, so you're not going to see a, 'OK, by this year, we want this percentage goal met,'" Ragsdale said.

Nichelle Davis, one of the board's two new Democratic members, asked staff how the plan connects to data measuring the district's success in its mission, "One Team, One Goal: Student Success."

"What are the benchmarks on this roadmap to continuous improvement that we're gonna use to make sure we're on the right track?" Davis asked. "Not accountability, but more so, on the roadmap to this, how are we gauging our progress based on this vision and the tools that we've selected and included in the plan?"

Floresta responded by noting the state accountability systems in place to make sure the district is meeting its goals.

Davis said she did not expect specific statistics to be included in the strategic plan. Instead, she said she was looking for the different standards and metrics that parts of the plan would be focused on meeting.

"From an everyday parent, everyday community member or teacher, if I look at this, I'm gonna say, 'This is nice, this is lofty, this is high,' but then, what are we actually being measured on," Davis said.

Floresta said earlier in his presentation that the express goal of the strategic plan is to produce CCSD graduates who possess the skills necessary to be "scholars, leaders and citizens."

He explained that under each of those roles are three skills, nine in total, that stakeholders throughout the district, including administrators, teachers and parents, determined to be most important for students once they are through at CCSD.

In a report released in July 2022 scrutinizing the district's purchasing practices, a Cobb County grand jury also addressed the district's strategic plan, saying the school board should revise the plan to include measurable goals, initiatives and budgetary allocations to "promote consistency and transparency throughout the decision-making process, particularly in managing fiscal resources."

Floresta said at the end of his presentation that he would be willing to meet with Davis to discuss her questions about connecting data to the goals laid out in the strategic plan.

Board member Randy Scamihorn, a Republican, said he also wanted to join that conversation. He and Davis could be seen reviewing the plan's "roadmap" throughout Floresta's presentation.

"We weren't being disrespectful, I don't think, we were trying to figure out the path and all that," Scamihorn said.