This past summer, Gering Public Schools convened a group of teachers, students, parents, community members, board members, and administrators. The purpose of this group was to develop strategic goals that will guide our district over the coming school years. Gering completed this process five years ago and developed goals that guided and directed our district towards reconfiguration of our grade levels, updating our high school facility, upgrading technology equipment and infrastructure throughout the district, and a district branding effort.

The work done this past summer by this talented group of staff, students, and community members spent time examining current district initiatives, exploring potential and desired futures for our district, and set goals for our future. At the September Gering Pubic Schools Board of Education meeting, a slate of four new strategic goals were approved and work will begin on them over the next weeks and months.

The developed and approved strategic goals for Gering Public Schools include:

1. By 2021, Gering Public Schools will leverage community partnerships to improve sustainability and promote innovation to be a progressive leader in education within our region and state.

2. By 2024, all three and four year-olds in Gering will have access to quality early childhood education with at least 50% enrolled in the Gering Schools District program.

3. By 2021, Gering Public Schools will be equipped with a blueprint for prioritizing facility needs so as to remain consistently competitive academically and in activities.

4. By 2024, all grade levels and content areas will have a clear and concise grading and reporting system based on best practices.

Each goal brings with it unique rationale and supporting information that guided the strategic planning group toward recommending it to the board of education for approval. Below is a brief synopsis of the reasoning behind each of the selected goals.

GPS understands that in order to have the most positive impact on student outcomes, schools and communities must work together through a collaborative and comprehensive approach. We recognize that community partnerships help prepare students for college, career, and citizenship by offering opportunities, supports, and enrichment beyond what schools are able to alone. Within Gering, we value our community partners and are eager to further enhance the opportunities for our students and community by enhancing and deepening existing partnerships and developing new ones throughout our town and area.

Early childhood education was chosen as a goal for varied reasons. More than 150 high-quality, scientific studies worldwide demonstrate that supporting children early (between the ages of birth and five) can have major short-and long-term effects on cognitive and social-emotional development. Early learning has been linked to progress in school, increased earnings over the lifetime, and reductions in antisocial behavior, welfare participation, and trouble with law enforcement. In Gering, we strive to both strengthen the early learning opportunities that already exist in our community and develop greater opportunities for our children.

Our third goal encompasses developing a blueprint for understanding and prioritizing facility needs throughout the district. Gering has some of the best and most safe facilities in Nebraska. In order to maintain and improve those facilities, it is incumbent upon the district to understand what the current and future needs of the district are and will be. This goal does not mean that we intend to pursue major and new facilities projects, but rather means that we intend to ensure that our facilities are kept competitive and will continue to serve us well for the years to come.

The final goal is focused on improving grading and reporting practices in the district. Research is clear that grades, when appropriately and clearly reported to students and parents, provide essential information to improve learning outcomes. However, in order for grades to be useful for those purposes, they must be meaningful, accurate, consistent, and supportive of learning. With that in mind, GPS intends to review and study our grading practices and make necessary improvements so that grades can provide the most useful information for everyone.

Gering Public Schools is excited to continue to improve education for our students and keep working to make Gering the best place in the world to be a kid. We already have a tremendous community and a top-notch school system. We look forward to working on these strategic goals and other initiatives that will make Gering even better in the years to come. Over the next weeks and months, our district will be sharing more information about these goals and will look to our community to provide valuable input as actions are developed to make them a reality.

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