Community Education

Want a say in Peninsula schools’ future? Here’s how to weigh in on the district’s strategic plan

Posted on April 13th, 2022 By:

Peninsula School District students, families and community members have until May 6 to share their thoughts on the future of Peninsula schools.

District officials on Tuesday opened public comment on the draft Strategic Plan 2022-26, which “will guide all of our actions and decisions over the next five years,” Superintendent Krestin Bahr said in a letter to families.

The school board has taken the lead on the draft document, outlining a vision, mission, values and goals, which are available on the district’s website. The board will analyze feedback gathered through an online platform called Thought Exchange before refining and approving the plan in June.

“We are inviting all staff members, parents, students, community leaders and other interested members of the public to contribute their thoughts, ideas and hopes so that we can effectively plan for the future of our students,” Bahr said. “We want to hear from everyone in Gig Harbor and on the Key Peninsula.”

Thought Exchange is a software platform used by businesses, organizations and public entities to gather feedback from employees, customers and constituents. Participants can anonymously share and rate ideas generated from an online discussion. Kicking off Peninsula’s discussion is an open-ended question from the school board: “What are some of the important things for us to consider as we create steps to achieve our goals?”

The district’s overarching goals, as outlined by the board, pertain to: academic excellence, innovation, fiscal responsibility, community engagement and a learning environment “where everyone feels safe, valued, respected, capable and connected.”

Public school districts typically update their strategic plan every five years.

“After all we have been through the past two years, it is more important than ever to have a strong direction for our district, which is where the strategic plan comes in,” Bahr said in a video message on the district’s website. “The Strategic Plan is an opportunity for us to be able to vision together about what we want for children, what we believe in as a community and where we want to go.”

School board President Lori Glover said, “We believe an effective strategic plan must reflect the priorities of all members of our education community.”

The Thought Exchange portal is open to all students, staff, parents and community members in Peninsula School District boundaries. Participants are asked to review the draft vision, mission, values and goals before signing in.

Participants can view and rate all ideas shared on the platform. The exchange is confidential. Participants identity is not shared. Personally identifiable information will be filtered out, as will any profanity that creeps in.

Although participants don’t need to rate all ideas, the district recommends rating at least 20. You can leave and re-enter the portal to add new thoughts any time before it closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6.

Using Thought Exchange, the board will identify themes related to the five goal areas and other themes important to the community, Glover explained. The board will also consider ideas that don’t receive a lot of support.

The board has scheduled open house events where families and community members can meet district leaders and ask questions about the strategic plan process. Attending a meeting is not required to participate in the Thought Exchange. Meetings are “family-friendly” (so you can come and go as needed) and will include children’s activities and refreshments.

Meetings are:

  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 – Artondale Elementary School
  • 6 p.m. Thursday, April 21 – Key Peninsula Civic Center
  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 27 – Harbor Ridge Middle School
  • 9 a.m. Saturday, April 30 – Evergreen Elementary School

The school board and district leaders will incorporate feedback from the Thought Exchange as they create action steps to achieve the district’s goals in the Strategic Plan.

Results of the Thought Exchange will be shared at the May 26 school board meeting. The final Strategic Plan will be shared in June and approved by the on June 23.