By Ken McLemore
HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board of Education took a SWOT tour during a non-action working session Dec. 13 that will serve as a conceptual blueprint for some long-term planning.
The “Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats” exercise, a collaborative reflection that creates definitively stated perspective, was facilitated by HPS Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley during a morning-long board work session.
Dr. Crossley said the board began with the SWOT exercise, then reviewed goals for Crossley’s office with a view toward writing a three to five-year master plan for the district.
Crossley said the examination of “strengths” and “weaknesses” was self-explanatory of observations from the board.
“Strengths” included things such as up-to-date facilities like the district’s new solar array under construction across from Clinton Primary School; improvements to special education access; innovative growth such as the Hope Collegiate Academy and Hope Career and Technical Academy at the University of Arkansas-Hope; improved teacher morale and stronger alignment of talent; wider community outreach; growth in “whole child” services; and, growing community support for student programs and activities.
“Weaknesses” generally reflected areas where improvement can be readily noticed such as teacher pay and retention; cutting-edge teacher professional development; standard discipline applications; shrinking student enrichment opportunities; consistent parental involvement across all campuses; slow rate of growth in literacy skills; shrinking school pride; and the need for expanded bilingual services.
Crossley said combining the impacts of both “strengths” and “weaknesses” produces “opportunities” for action, which the board distilled into three general categories, including greater “whole child” services; emphasis upon early literacy in curriculum, teacher professional development, and resource use; and, recruitment/retention of teachers, students and parents with improved awareness of the district by all stakeholders.
The board agreed those outcomes can be diluted or lost if threatened by negative attitudes which produce perceptions that are resistant to change; a failure to show how all residents of the district have a stake in the future of the HPS; and legislative policy such as “school choice.”