As if pending building projects and an elementary-grade reconfiguration haven’t been enough to keep Mechanicsburg Area School District officials busy lately, the district now is occupied with revamping its comprehensive plan.

Julie Huff, the district’s assistant superintendent for academics, presented the school board with an overview on Tuesday night of a comprehensive plan draft for 2019-22. A comprehensive plan is defined on the state Department of Education’s website as “a web-based framework for thoughtful data-driven and research-based district and school planning.”

In layman’s terms, this means putting such elements as a district’s direction, strategies and action plan into writing.

Although Mechanicsburg already has maintained a state-required comprehensive plan for a number of years, it’s mandated to periodically revise the document. The district next is required to submit a revision by June 2018. A committee of more than 70 students, school board members, administrators, teachers, parents and business people began laying groundwork for a new plan around a year ago, Huff said.

The revision coincides with several ongoing changes in district buildings and the elementary grade configuration. Elmwood Elementary School is being converted from its present status as a school for grades 1-5 to a district-wide center for grades four and five next year.

All other district elementary schools, with the exception of the Kindergarten Academy, will change from grades 1-5 to grades 1-3 for next year. The district also plans to renovate and expand the Kindergarten Academy at Filbert Street, as well as all other district buildings over the next five years.

“The timing of this (plan revision) was great,” Huff said.

Huff said one of the biggest changes to the revisions is the inclusion of a new district vision “that looks into the future of learning for all school systems.” As proposed, the new vision reads: “A Learning Community. Inspired to Explore — Empowered to Innovate.”

Previously, Mechanicsburg didn’t have a district vision. Administrators intend for the new element to complement the district’s existing mission, which remains unchanged as:

  • Resilient, self-directed learners able to achieve personal goals;
  • Critical and creative thinkers capable of transferring knowledge to new situations;
  • Collaborative team players with effective communications skills; and
  • Productive, responsible citizens in a diverse and ever-changing global society.

Another change included in the proposal is providing students with a “dimension of wellness” as a strategy goal, including mental health. “You have to look at the whole child,” Huff said.

School board members applauded the wellness inclusion. “Wellness and mental health are hard issues to tackle. I’m proud that we’re including this in our plan. It’s a partnership that we have with parents,” board member Joshua Rhodes said.

The draft comprehensive plan will soon be available for public review on the district’s website, www.mbgsd.org, for 28 days. After that, the school board will vote to finalize the plan in May before it’s submitted to the state Department of Education in June. The state is expected to approve the plan by March 2019, with first-year implementation taking place on July 1, 2019.

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