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Lancaster ISD and City of Lancaster Unite to Present Joint Strategic Plan at Area Chamber Luncheon

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Lancaster ISD and City of Lancaster Unite to Present Joint Strategic Plan at Area Chamber Luncheon

Lancaster, TX/Lancaster ISD – It’s no secret that in Lancaster, both the city and the school district operate in unity. Such a collaborative partnership has allowed each entity to leverage and utilize the resources of the other. Frequently, the two come together to host events and provide opportunities and services to the parents and students of Lancaster. From the annual Back to School Fair and National Night Out, to the Joint Fitness Health Challenge and the More Than a Diploma Initiative, the city and school district are no strangers to collaboration.

Most recently the two hosted a joint Early Childhood Literacy Day in which every second grader in Lancaster ISD visited the library and signed up to receive a library card. As a result, more than 500 students now have a library card and will have access to the city library’s print and digital resources.

“Working together is an opportunity for us to say that we can act as one and acting as one makes us a stronger unit,” School Board Vice President Ellen Clark said.

Both the city and the school district saw the collective power of its united front when the residents of the City of Lancaster voted last spring to pass the $125.9 million bond for the school district.

“City and school collaboration is critical, because it ensures that each entity has a true sense of our respective efforts, but also highlights how our collective efforts can enhance our overall community,” Lancaster Mayor Marcus E. Knight said. “The passing of the school bond showed that we as a community recognize the importance of reinvesting in our education system and our people.”

And enhancing the overall community is exactly what led Lancaster ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael McFarland, City Manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson and members of both executive leadership teams to have a series of meetings to develop a joint strategic plan coined the Village 2020 Plan.

“‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ is a commonly quoted proverb, however there is little evidence that there has been collective action among major institutions like schools, cities, social service organizations and religious institutions in alignment with this belief,” Dr. McFarland said.
“In many places, bureaucracy, political agendas and turf wars among these agencies prevent the type of collaboration necessary to truly create the ideal village. I am proud to say that in Lancaster, we reject the notion that these entities can’t work together and we are focused on building our village with intentional action.”

An outcome of the meetings was that the school district and the city made a commitment to each other to work together — leveraging the knowledge, skills, talents and resources — to ensure that students and residents benefit from an excellent educational system and experience a quality of life that is second to none.

“We are clear about the inter connectivity necessary to create the village and we are focused on building a great community, a model city, and an excellent educational experience for our residents by working together,” Dr. McFarland said.

Lancaster Council Member Stanley Jaglowski echoed similar sentiments.
“A strong city, a good city is dependent upon many keys and one of those keys is a good, strong school district,” he said.
School Board President Ty G. Jones said that great things can happen as a result of the partnership.
“We have a commitment to our citizens and to our community that we will work together as leaders,” he said. “The benefit of us working collectively is that we have certain things that we’re trying to accomplish, and we can do that seamlessly in most cases.”

Further capitalizing on the power of partnerships, the Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce has invited both the school district and the city to present the joint plan at the upcoming chamber luncheon, Thursday, June 9 at the Lancaster Recreation Center at 11:30 AM.

“The Village 2020 Plan captures our vision for the long-term direction of our organizations and allows the teams to implement programs and strategies while maximizing the resources necessary for high-quality programs and services to better serve, inform, educate and support our community,” Robertson said. “We recognize that we are serving the same citizens and Village 2020 demonstrates to our citizens that we are aware of this fact and will maximize our resources.”

During the chamber luncheon, the team hopes that those in attendance will want to join the efforts in ensuring that the Village 2020 Plan comes to fruition.

“The main and most important goal is to show that when major entities like the school, city, religious institutions, chamber, social service organizations and others are intentional about working together for the collective good, then we can create the ideal city, the ideal school district and the ideal community,” Dr. McFarland said. “We used our individual long-range plans and strategic plans to identify key metrics, and by the year 2020, will hope to be a model of what a true village looks like.”

It is evident that the two entities share a mutual respect for one another. The superintendent often highlights the city and its leaders in presentations and conversations.

“Lancaster is unique in that we have a small-town feel where all the leaders of all the entities are connected and operate with a unified purpose. We want to be great and are prepared to put personal and political agendas aside for the good of the community, families and our students. We have the access and the aspirations of the larger cities and the personality and identity of a small town village,” Dr. McFarland said. “I am most proud of the fact that the city is progressive in mindset and remains respectful of the assets of the past and the heritage of Lancaster.”
And in turn, the City Manager regularly supports the school district.

“It is important to support and be engaged in the activities and programs of Lancaster ISD. Our presence and participation indicates that we are not just saying that we support the district, it demonstrates or support. It also shows the students, teachers, administrators and parents that we recognize the importance of education and the youth of our community,” she said. “I am most proud of the district for its commitment to continuous improvement and the fact that our students are celebrated and encouraged in academics, athletics and fine arts.”

The mayor said that he has high hopes for the continued partnership.

“Successful communities are ones where the school district is vibrant and thriving but also where the city is thriving,” he said. “Collectively we are moving the needle in the right direction to show that Lancaster is a choice and preference for people.” 
The Lancaster Independent School District serves more than 7,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 11 schools. Our vision is that all students achieve self-sustaining success and leave a lasting legacy. And our mission, in collaboration with parents and communities, is to ignite learning that translates into sustainable success for all students in an ever-changing society.
422 S. Centre Ave. ● Lancaster, TX 75146 ● (972) 218-1400