Grapevine-Colleyville school district planning effort involves parents, educators, students

Dozens of Grapevine-Colleyville school district parents, educators and students are making big plans, both short- and long-term.

"Most districts will plan for three and five years down the road and then will re-evaluate," Grapevine-Colleyville Superintendent Robin Ryan said. "We wanted to look farther into the future; we want this to be a bold plan for our students."

The Leading Excellence -- Action Driven 2021 program is the district's most ambitious visioning process, involving more than 150 people, Ryan said.

A 30-member planning committee met for a two-day retreat this fall to frame the guiding objectives. Seven community action teams then researched ideas. The teams will present their recommendations to the planning committee in January. The final strategic plan will be presented to the school board in February, and by May, it could be district policy.

"We have a very aggressive timeline," Ryan said. "That means our people are having to put in extra hours at a time of year when it's very difficult."

While many goals are for 10 years, others are for three to five, Ryan said.

"It does seem like a long time," he said. "But our current second-graders will be the ones walking across the stage, shaking my hand in 10 years. Our kids are already here, and we have to plan for their success."

The goals include working with each student to devise personal learning plans and post-graduate goals, customizing district communication methods, integrating technology into all school buildings and equipping students with wireless computers.

Matthew Rodriguez, 17, is a junior at Grapevine High School and one of five students on the planning committee.

He said students' priorities sometimes differ from adults'.

"Technology was one of our issues," he said. "We fought hard to make that a priority. We were able to give a personal feeling of how it would impact us."

The Grapevine-Colleyville district is involving community members in planning, and Ryan said the district wants to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to have a role in guiding the district's business.

"That's the beautiful thing about this," he said. "We had a committee of 52 people working on the bond planning committee. Then we had another 80 to 85 people working on revenue reductions and enhancements."

With LEAD 2021, that totals about 300 people.

"We didn't want the focus of our district to be about the money or lack of money," Ryan said. "We wanted also to be thinking about the future of education in our district."

June Ritchlin, Colleyville Elementary School principal, serves on both the planning committee and an action team.

"I see this as a transformational step for our district," she said.

Her team is focused on staff training and development and a philosophical shift from "a teaching platform to a learning platform."

The emphasis would be not only on teaching students what they need to know but also providing engaging and personalized lessons that enhance learning, she said.

Committee member Mark Schumacher of Grapevine, who has two middle-school-age children, said, "I saw this as an opportunity to share my thoughts and get to know the challenges of the school district."

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657