When Excellence is the Only Option

GCSMaurice “Mo” Green became Superintendent of the Guilford County Schools in August 2008. In January 2009, after collaborating with over 4,000 stakeholders, he launched the school district’s first ever strategic plan. His motto is “Excellence is the only option.”

Like the our current financial crisis, Superintendent Green has had to face difficult budget cuts over the two budget cycles for which he has been the Superintendent, including a projected $40mil in cuts for 2010-11 (larger district, larger budget, larger cuts… severe none the less).

The MDUSDParent blog has posted a comprehensive look at Superintendent Green’s approach with respect to communication and strategic planning. There are links to his webpage where you can find the GCS strategic plan.

I am providing below excepts from a letter written by Superintendent Green as part of his budget proposal.

You decide…
Would this promote cooperation? Would this promote loyalty? Would relationships like these move a community to support a local parcel tax? Would it encourage volunteerism? If this was followed up by actions would you believe your children went to school in a district where their needs were number one?
Can MDUSD be all that?

April 6, 2010

Dear Board Members:

When we launched our character development initiative earlier this year, one of the traits we chose as important for our students to know, understand and act upon was perseverance.

In fact, we defined it as continuing to pursue worthy objectives in spite of difficulty, opposition or discouragement. Now, it’s our turn. As we face yet another difficult budget year, we have the opportunity to show our students, staff and community members that we will persevere, and stay true to the goal of educating all children well. Our strategic plan calls for educational excellence, and our students deserve no less.

We also value our hard-working employees, and have tried mightily throughout this two-year period of economic turbulence to preserve as many jobs as possible. Last year, we were able to find positions within GCS for most personnel displaced due to reorganization, budget cuts and enrollment shifts. We’re proud of this effort, and believe that keeping staff working during these tough economic times is the right thing to do.

….While the fiscal challenges we face are severe, we cannot lose sight of our students’ needs and the promises we’ve made to our community. Embedded in our strategic plan, these concerns call us to achieve more on behalf of the children we serve. That’s why we must persevere and press forward with the important work we’ve started in addressing the needs of students, including those who are struggling as well as those who aren’t being challenged enough. In 2008-09, we made progress on 19 of 24 interim academic achievement goals and we look to make progress again this year. For 2010-11, we must continue to raise expectations for all students; and, we must continue to find ways to support our teachers and principals in the difficult work they do in transforming our schools – and our children’s lives. We must press forward with the important work we started this year in turning around low-performing schools, improving services for advanced learners, launching our Character Development initiative, expanding Positive Behavior Support (PBS) to more schools and piloting Parent Assistant in six schools.

…At some point, even during turbulent economic times, the needs of our students must come first. We, at GCS, are doing our part. We have made deep cuts, and have made plans to do more, if necessary. We have redirected funds to pay for strategic plan initiatives to improve student achievement. We have increased our efficiency and productivity. We have raised expectations for students and staff, and both have responded in kind. Our children and young people deserve the very best we can give them. They know or will know how to persevere. Many overcome incredible odds just to get to school every day. Now it’s up to us, the adults in the community, to demonstrate that we, too, have character. We must persevere. We must put them first.
Maurice “Mo” Green


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