Vision 2016

The following are the new student achievement goals for Vision 2016, Charleston County School District’s new five-year strategic plan.Third-graders on grade level in English/ language arts2010-11: 79.5 percent2015-16: 98 percentThird-graders on grade level in math2010-11: 69.5 percent2015-16: 93 percentEighth-graders on grade level in English/ language arts2010-11: 69 percent2015-16: 85 percentEighth-graders on grade level in math2010-11: 69 percent2015-16: 82 percentGraduation rate2010-11: 72 percent2015-16: 81 percentCharleston County School District

If nothing changes in Charleston County, the school district won’t hit its new student-achievement goals.

That’s one of the reasons Superintendent Nancy McGinley is asking the community and parents this morning to get involved. She is making her plea during the public launch of Vision 2016, the new chapter of the district’s strategic plan.

“Education is a quality-of-life issue, and it’s an economic issue,” she said in an interview this week with The Post and Courier.

“It transforms lives, but we cannot do it alone. Where we have active parents and volunteers and business partnerships, we see much better progress, so we’re asking people to join in this mission of Vision 2016.”

McGinley will give her annual State of the Schools address at the county School of the Arts to more than 350 community partners, business leaders, parents and educators.

Her main message this year is announcing the start of Vision 2016, the five-year plan to improve all students’ achievement. The plan sets objective goals for third- and eighth-graders in English and math and for high school students’ graduation rates.

Community members and the board have signed off on the goals, and McGinley said schools need everyone’s help to achieve them. That will be done in part through posters and billboards promoting Vision 2016.

The four vinyl and eight digital billboards will be posted for up to 90 days at no cost to the district. The total marketing cost for Vision 2016 hasn’t been finalized.

“If we get education right, we’re building a better community for ourselves as well as a better future for the youngsters who are the beneficiaries,” McGinley said.

She said she is proud of the improvements that have been made during the past five years, specifically the fact that 50 percent of students now attend schools rated “excellent” by the state.

While that is encouraging, she said she will be unsatisfied until no student attends schools rated “below average” or “at risk.”

“We have the potential to do better, and if we don’t, we are relegating children to second-class citizenship,” she said.

To achieve the new goals, McGinley said schools will need to focus on literacy, hold employees accountable for results instead of efforts, and close the achievement gap.

“The thrust of the next five years must be going further, going faster and closing the achievement gap,” McGinley said.

Some of the programs needed to do that will require more money, but McGinley couldn’t name a price tag. The cost will come from paying competitive salaries to the best administrators and teachers, investing in technology, and creating more interventions for struggling readers, she said.

The county school board will make the final call on funding programs. Although most board members agree on the academic goals of Vision 2016, they disagree about how to make them a reality.

The board voted 6-2 with one abstention Monday to endorse the feedback from parents, families and the community on the actions they thought were needed to reach the goals. Board members Elizabeth Moffly and Elizabeth Kandrac were the dissenting votes, and Brian Thomas abstained.

The community listed a number of strategies, and one of those included “adjusted day and year schedule.” Moffly said an extended school year has been mentioned only in passing, and the board needed a broader discussion before signing off on that.

Board Chairman Chris Fraser said endorsing the community’s feedback didn’t bind the board to action, and the board would have to approve funds to make that possible.

Kandrac said she didn’t like the strategy that would “require community engagement in schools involving parents (especially parents).” She said she doesn’t trust the district, and approving that could mean it becomes policy without board members doing anything further, she said.

“If we’re endorsing that, we’re requiring that,” he said.

Thomas said he appreciated the community’s input but felt uncomfortable voting for a vague set of recommendations without a concrete game plan or priorities.

McGinley said district leaders always could return to the board to request approval for anything “requiring people to do anything out of the ordinary.”

Reach Diette Courrégé at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.