Strategic plan outlines a ‘bright future’ in Hannibal schools

A nearly yearlong process to develop a blueprint for Hannibal Central School District’s future is nearing completion and is on track to be approved by the board of education at its June meeting.

Under the guidance of an outside facilitator, more than two dozen community members, students, teachers, administrators and stakeholders have been meeting regularly to formulate a five-year plan for the district. Their ideas began as discussions and have translated into written beliefs, vision statements and guidelines that committee and subcommittee members presented during a recent school board meeting.

“It was probably one of the most positive things that I’ve been involved with in a very long time,” said Strategic Plan Committee member Jack Pope. “It was an excellent example of what can happen if a group of people get together with a very positive attitude.”

Pope noted that the committee was tasked with analyzing data, reviewing survey results and compiling information to develop quantifiable, measurable goals that may be modified or changed in the future.

“What we developed is a blueprint for the best possible outcomes in our district and community,” said committee member and business owner Jim Mirabito. “We have a responsibility to act in the best interest of our students for the betterment of our entire community.”

That student-centric mentality was reflected as committee members presented the seven core beliefs that they developed. In addition to students being the first priority, the group also stressed its belief in high expectations, better communication, an openness to change, a student-centered learning environment, creating a passion for learning and having respect for all.

“We do not allow negativity to block our progress,” said Hannibal High School student and committee member Liam Mason.

To help keep that forward progress going, the group also created strategic intents and plans to implement districtwide goals, which included boosting graduation and attendance rates and fostering a data-driven culture. According to committee member Dawn Thompson, these goals can be accomplished through literacy intervention, instituting specific policies to address issues, offering more advanced placement courses, by following best teaching practices and by using former graduates to promote the district.

“We need to utilize alumni and engage our graduates,” Thompson said. “They are a hidden treasure in our community that we should be using to show students where they can be if they work hard.”

With the blueprint laid out for the next five years, Superintendent Donna Fountain said she is looking forward to the next steps in the process. Once approved by the board, the plan would be implemented and progress would be monitored frequently to ensure the best outcomes for students.

“I feel like a proud mother, I can’t say enough about the work they’ve put in,” Fountain said after the committee’s presentation. “They have set us on a positive trajectory for the future.”