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Update on the Strategic Planning Process

Keeping you updated on our Strategic Planning! 
By Dr. Jason Hornbacher, Superintendent 

There was a definite buzz in the room as I walked from table to table during our second Strategic Planning Committee meeting. This group of 60 parents, staff, students and community members were highly engaged in the work that will frame the future of BPS. 

Their homework was to review the feedback from a dozen focus groups conducted by BPS staff and strategic planning consultant Jeffry Schatz. Focus groups included students at each high school, booster groups, regular and special education parents, Native American parents, teachers, school support staff, professional support staff, administrators, and community groups like the Chamber EDC. Here’s a synopsis of what they told us: 

Academic Skills: Communication was first, followed by collaboration/teamwork, critical thinking/problem solving, financial literacy, and applied or basic math.

Workplace Skills: Work ethic was first, then collaboration/teamwork, problem solving, self-advocacy, pre-job skills like writing resumes, and financial literacy.

Life Skills: Soft skills/work skills, then empathy/compassion, respect for self and others, and emotional intelligence and coping skills.

What makes BPS unique: Student opportunities in all areas, the Career Academy, innovation, staff training, special needs services/programs, and community support.

Strengths: BPS staff members and all of the opportunities available to students!

Trends: Youth issues such as vaping, mental wellness, etc., followed by community issues such as affordable housing, cultural diversity, lack of mental health services, etc.

Challenges/Critical Decisions: Facilities/crowding, social-emotional health/behavior issues, school safety, staffing shortages, and diversity and socio-economic trends.

Improvement Opportunities: Staffing issues, staff communication as the district grows, and mental health for all. 

The Strategic Planning team also created “word clouds” to update our portrait of a BPS graduate, as well as a new portrait of a BPS educator.

Last but not least, we reviewed the district’s current mission statement: All students will have the academic, social, and personal skills to be college, career, and community ready. The rich dialog provided diverse feedback around our current mission statement. In the near future we will review our vision statement (Together, we inspire a passion for learning, discovery, and excellence) and discuss the values central to Bismarck Public Schools.  I’m sure there will be robust conversation around those topics as well! BPS will work to collate the thoughts, ideas, and suggestions into a set of unified statements that will frame the future of BPS. 

At the conclusion of the Strategic Planning Committee meetings in 2020, all of the work will be posted so that the entire community can provide feedback. The final step will be to present it to the Bismarck Public School Board for approval.

I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this process! If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at or 701-323-4054.