Monday, December 4, 2023

GISD board approves five-year strategic plan


Following months of planning and discussing with district staff, families, students, and community members, the Granbury ISD five-year strategic plan is officially in the works.

The GISD Board of Trustees approved the plan in a 5:2 vote on Monday, July 17, during its monthly meeting.

Strategic planning is a process that empowers stakeholders, such as parents, students, district employees, city officials, business partners, and clergy, to collaboratively shape the future of their school district, according to the plan overview.

Through this process, the district and community become partners in creating a five-year plan. This shared sense of ownership enables districts to overcome obstacles and discover new possibilities for students. All school districts reach a point where they must reinvigorate their practices and create new systems or face decline. The strategic planning process galvanizes the community around a common purpose, bringing new life to the district.

The process was approved by the school board in February and began in March.

"The strategic planning process was meant to engage stakeholders, to figure out a way to really work collaboratively to shape the future, and to really discover new possibilities for all of our kids,” said GISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn during the meeting. “Our community came together, and we came up with a foundation of beliefs that we want to build upon, and we created a draft vision and mission statements for the district.”

He explained that two statements of beliefs that the committee voted on were: “Positive partnerships with family and community are important for student success,” and “All students should be future ready.”

"The vision statement, we wanted something that was easy to understand that expressed hope for the future that people could know and be able to easily repeat, and that clarified the direction we wanted to go,” Glenn explained.

He said that the vision statement — “Granbury ISD inspires excellence and empowers all students to be future ready and positive contributors in their community,” — served as a checklist to create the strategic plan mission statement, which states: “In partnership with our students, staff and families, and community, Granbury ISD is committed to empowering all learners to achieve academic excellence. We provide a safe and supportive learning environment based upon positive relationships, respect and integrity, and a sense of belonging. Our innovative relevant instruction promotes critical thinking so students can become lifelong learners who are future ready.”

Glenn explained that the five-year plan envelops district data and contains four key pieces: academics, human capital, facilities, and culture.

During the meeting, representatives from each of the four key pieces came up to the podium to discuss goals, along with strategies and a timeline for the expected objectives.


“We all know that student achievement is a cornerstone of the public education system, and because of that, the committee was very purposeful in the goal and strategies that they created,” said Nuvia Velasquez, instructional specialist at STEAM Academy at Mambrino.

She explained that the goal for academics is that by 2028, 100% of Granbury ISD students will “demonstrate or exceed grade level proficiency and will be equipped with individualized future reading skills.”

“Our first strategy says that we're going to strengthen the district wide system in which all students engage daily with TEKS aligned high quality instructional material and assessments, which support learning at appropriate levels of rigor,” Velasquez explained. “Later this summer, we will look to create a committee to clarify and reinforce the components and connection between highly effective instruction, high quality materials, and assessment."

Velasquez explained that this fall, the district will begin implementing the benchmark phonic program, start the annual process of updating and evaluating the effectiveness of scope and instructional materials for all content core areas, and will update the curriculum page.

Velasquez said that academic strategy No. 2 focuses on professional development, where starting this fall, the district will utilize the Branching Minds software to “drive intervention plans for students with academic gaps.”

"To expand a little bit what branching minds is, it is a platform that houses all the data of students so any notes that the teacher or someone like myself makes can be housed in that platform, so if I was at Acton, and I moved to Mambrino, that platform and data will follow me,” Velasquez explained. “We could have it all in one location, and then that way we're able to track what was successful and not successful with that student.”

This fall, the district will also utilize the observation feedback protocol to provide job embedded professional development for teachers, and in the spring, the observation feedback protocol will be extended to all instructional leaders.

In the summer of 2024, the district will start its annual evaluation of the effectiveness of the observation feedback on instruction.


Jana Reid, Granbury High School English teacher, said she would be explaining the academic goals from a high school perspective to ensure students were CCMR (College, Career, and Military Ready).

Reid recommended that the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) Assessment be moved to the fall, rather than in the spring following the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) test.

She also recommended establishing a committee to consider changes to the district’s GPA system.

"Our GPA system, as we have it right now, is pretty involved and pretty difficult, and we want to encourage our students and be more transparent and easy with our GPA system,” Reid explained. “That would not take effect, obviously, for a number of years, because you have to bring that in with a freshman class, but we wanted to start that process this fall.”


Maggie Walton, principal at Acton Elementary School, began her presentation by stating that the overwhelming factor of student success is the quality of the teacher in the classroom.

Walton said the goal is to find a way to attract more teachers to come to GISD, while also ensuring that they stay in the district.

“Together, our committee came up with the following goal: by 2028, 100% of GISD staff will be highly effective, well supported, and valued both personally and professionally,” she said.

The first strategy, she said, involves the implementation of VATRE (Voter Approval Tax Rate Election), which would give additional funding to the district.

Beginning this fall, the district would launch a Granbury ISD campaign to highlight the “incredible things happening” at GISD.

“We envision videos, we envision brochures at the Chamber of Commerce that are sprinkled throughout the community that are really highlighting all the incredible things that make GISD what it is and make Granbury the incredible town that it is,” Walton explained.

In spring 2024, the district will strengthen the partnerships with local universities and colleges, and in summer 2024, a benefits and compensation review will be conducted.

Walton said in spring 2025, GISD will host its own job fair, while in fall of 2025, a teacher incentive allotment will be implemented to “incentivize our really high-quality teachers who are going the extra mile.”

The second strategy involves establishing district wide systems for professional growth and retention, which will begin this summer with a GISD staff mentoring program.

"We know that part of retention is making sure that our new employees feel well supported, and a lot of our campuses have great mentoring programs, but we're looking at making this a little bit more uniform across the district,” Walton said.

She also suggested administering GISD climate surveys, where employees will be asked to provide feedback on the district.

In spring of 2024, the employee onboarding process will be tweaked to make the program more uniform across the board.

Walton said that in spring of 2025, the district will implement a common exit-and-stay interview process and a grow-your-own system, where paraprofessionals will be given opportunities to become teachers and grow in their careers.

Walton explained that in the spring of 2026, the leadership program LEAP (Leadership Experiences for Aspiring Professionals) will be strengthened, while in the summer of 2026, the district will develop a staff recognition plan.

"I would consider this one of the most important parts of our entire strategy,” she said, on the staff recognition plan. “A recent Gallup (News) poll showed that a lack of employee recognition is the most common reason why people leave their jobs. People leave their jobs because they don't feel like they've been recognized, and so thinking about ‘How can we be strategic about the ways that we celebrate what our teachers are doing?’ We do a great job celebrating what our students do, but how can we really be intentional about celebrating all of the incredible things that our staff does?”

Lastly, the summer of 2027, Walton said, involves establishing a GISD staff wellness program to ensure that all staff are happy and healthy.


In discussing facilities, CTE Director Todd Gibson explained that the goal is that by 2028, 100% of GISD facilities will be “well maintained, secure, and prepared for future growth.”

The first strategy involves developing a district wide system to meet current and future facility-related needs.

“Clearly in our district, we have existing facility needs at each campus, whether that be a need for renovations or for a need for expansion,” Gibson said. “We also have a need for additional facilities to alleviate some of the overcrowding that's happening at different campuses, and hopefully to improve some of the logistics of our transportation department.”

He added that the committee will remain transparent and communicate clearly with the public when it comes to needs and ongoing projects, and that the committee will also prioritize the current needs and plan for the immediate future when it comes to the upcoming bond.

“As much as I'd like to plan for 10 years out, our community showed us very clearly that they were not ready to do that at the last bond election, so we want to keep that in mind,” Gibson said.

The first action step, he said, is to develop a bond oversight committee to ensure “transparency, communication, and guidance” throughout the next several years.

Future projects, Gibson said, will include a new elementary school on the northeast side of town, and renovations at every campus like:

⦁ Additional space at Acton Middle School

⦁ A gymnasium at Nettie Baccus Elementary School

⦁ Roadways to help traffic flow at Oak Woods School and Emma Roberson Early Learning Academy

⦁ Upgrades and renovations to Acton Elementary School

⦁ Facility renovation at Granbury Middle School

The facility renovations would also include an additional focus on Granbury High School, where rifle range classrooms would be added for the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (MCJROTC), along with dressing facilities storage, CTE classrooms and shop space, an update to the baseball and softball facilities, and renovating lower grand hall to acquire five more classrooms.

Gibson added that this fall, a meeting will be set up to prioritize and budget for every item in the plan.

“In addition to those renovations, we're also in dire need of new A/Cs,” he said. “We used semester money this past year to buy 80 plus air conditioners, and we would hope that since we have just shy of 300 units that are 20 years old that we could use some of these funds to pay for new A/Cs in the district.”

Transportation is also in need of 30 additional buses and an additional bus stop on the northeast side of town that would help “reduce the time that students are on the road,” and would “alleviate traffic issues.”

Gibson said these projects would be completed by the spring of 2025, leaving the summer of 2026 open to reevaluate campus needs and potentially call for an additional bond.

"Knowing that the construction process takes multiple years, if we wait five years in our five-year plan to look at potentially other new facilities — whether that be a high school, another elementary addition or a middle school — we're going to be into that 10-year plan, and we'll be behind the eight ball,” he said.

He added that the purpose of the initial bond is to try to take care of GISD in the immediate future — not over the next 10 years.

"We feel confident that all of this can happen for less than a penny on the tax rate,” Gibson said. “The price tag is 165 million but understand that with our bond capacity and the room we have, that would only be about a penny or less.”

Gibson explained that the second part of the five-year facilities plan is to expand district wide systems to ensure well-maintained and secure facilities.

He said that a facilities committee will be formed to assess current and future needs through walkthroughs, establish replacement schedules for equipment, and to explore grant opportunities.

"The last thing I have here is the security piece, which we all know is a big focus of the district, and it's a big focus of TEA (Texas Education Agency) as well,” he added. “We just want to make sure we're evaluating our existing facilities and analyzing what we're currently doing to ensure that our campuses are secure and that our students are safe.”


Shanna McPherson, library media specialist at Acton Elementary School, presented on Granbury culture — the last piece of the strategic plan.

"Culture is the heart of our district, and it is, in my opinion, the best part of this whole piece,” she said. “We set a goal because we want us to be one pirate nation.”

The district’s goal by 2028, McPherson said, is that 100% of Granbury ISD students, staff, families, and community will be “connected, supported, respected, and value the educational experience.”

She explained that the first step this summer is to develop a communications committee, where one person per campus would be on the committee to keep the community informed about what’s going on at each campus.

In spring 2024, the district would design a culture survey, while in summer 2024, a family communication liaison will be appointed.

“We also want to develop a district wide communication and newsletter template, so this committee would create that for the principals and (assistant principals) to push information out to our families and communities to where it's unified across all the campuses,” McPherson said.

In spring of 2025, McPherson said the district will “paint Granbury purple and gold,” by painting the railroad bridge to read, “Pirate Nation,” similar to how Tolar displays its town mural.

A Granbury ISD billboard to promote students, staff, academics, and athletics is also in the works, as well as a service project committee.

In summer 2026, a campaign will be developed to build awareness of community partnerships, and an academic marketing team will also be formed.

The second strategy will focus more on universal support for students and staff, McPherson said, starting with a Granbury culture committee that will be created this summer.

"They'll develop systems to address bullying, set procedures for schools, and create a visual aid that would be put everywhere — in the bathrooms, cafeteria, and in the classrooms — that will include steps for if you notice bullying or cyberbullying, here’s what you do," she said.

In spring 2024, the district will establish a GMS/AMS pirate committee to “squash the divide” between the two schools by hosting a pirate camp for both campuses — essentially ending the perception that one school is better than the other.

An updated dress code policy will also be implemented in spring 2024 that will be “changed with the times” and will remain “consistent.”

Lastly, in fall 2025, a district processes and procedures team will be created.

“We want standard operating procedures for teachers and staff to improve our culture because consistency is key,” McPherson added. “We are one pirate nation.”


Following the presentation, GISD Board President Barbara Herrington thanked those that served on the planning and bond committees.

"We are so grateful that we have people that are interested enough to give those days and hours,” she said. “I'm sure my fellow board members will agree that those folks gave a lot of time and came with diverse ideas, diverse opinions, and they were able to come together in so many ways — and for that, I'm thankful.”

GISD Board Secretary Courtney Gore also individually thanked the students who participated in the planning process.

"It was awesome to hear from them, and for them to be a part of this process," she said. “It was great to see this and witness everyone coming together to develop this plan, and especially hearing from our own students, so thank you.”

Before voting began, GISD Trustees Karen Lowery and Melanie Graft expressed hesitation in voting for the five-year strategic plan that day, as they wished to spend more time and attention on what was presented before deciding.

"I'd like to take the time to spend — all the people who worked so hard on this — to give it more consideration,” Graft said. “I feel like reading the board book and then having to read this, I haven't been able to give it the attention that it fully deserves.”

Herrington asked Glenn what would happen in regard to the strategic plan timeline if the board didn’t vote on the plan that night.

Glenn responded that the district had already started moving forward with some parts of the plan, with the intent that the board would approve it because the plan “came as a grassroots effort from students, parents, and teachers.”

Herrington also expressed concern that after asking committee members to come in and give their best effort, if the board didn’t approve the plan, that it would be like saying “their best efforts may or may not be good enough.”

Trustee Billy Wimberly added that most of the board members had time to spend with administrators and teachers to discuss the plan and it was his recommendation to approve the proposal as presented.

The five-year strategic plan resulted in a 5:2 vote, with Graft and Lowery voting “No.”