Strategic Plan


Introduction: the Ecosystem of Public Education

A public school system exists to serve its community. In the United States, we believe that all children should be given an opportunity to learn how to become healthy, responsible and productive citizens. This foundational value of public education took root when the Boston Latin School was established in 1635 and continues to be a core principle in this nation. 

To function as intended, a public school system must be organized to identify and achieve the community’s priorities for educating their children. The school board helps design a system that will prepare children for success. Everything that happens in Kearney School District should be a function of that grassroots input from the public to their elected officials, the Superintendent of Schools and administrative leadership team. 

KSD can only succeed if we regularly take the time to listen to, learn from and plan with the people we serve and support: students, parents/guardians, staff and other community members. This collaboration and cooperation undergird our entire educational ecosystem and ensures that we are achieving the right outcomes. Together, we frame the future for KSD students.

Designing and Building the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan

Every three to five years, KSD evaluates our goals and desired outcomes. The result is a visionary plan that serves as a navigation chart for everything we do in KSD. Our schools are defined by high-quality educational experiences and supported by a community of students, parents, faculty and staff. This joint effort extends to our strategic planning.

KSD’s last strategic plan came to a close at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. This made the development of a new five-year plan one of the district’s top priorities in the summer and fall of 2022. The previous plan served the community well, but Kearney is changing along with the nation and our school system must evolve. The launch of the sixth version of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 6) made this strategic planning work even more urgent.

The theory of action that drove the entire strategic planning process was the fundamental belief that gathering input from a deep and wide selection of key constituents will result in a relevant long-range strategic plan that will achieve the community’s desired outcome. With this in mind, the district’s leadership team was determined to engage with:

  • Parents/Guardians
  • Students
  • Staff
  • Business and Organizational Leaders
  • Public Officials and Regulators
  • Property Owners
  • Other Residents

After some initial preparation over the summer, work on KSD’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan began in earnest with the Superintendent’s listening and learning tour at schools in the week leading up to the start of classes on Aug. 23. Staff at each school had the opportunity to participate in a “Plus-Delta” exercise. About 400 staff attended these meetings, approximately 75 percent of the total. KSD employees were very open at these meetings and provided invaluable insights about what works well in the school system and what needs to be changed.

It’s noteworthy that many of the items listed by KSD staff in the “Plus” and “Delta” columns aligned with the input gathered several months earlier during a strategic planning discussion with the Bulldogs Business and Education for Schools of Tomorrow (BEST) Team. This advisory council of about 20 members meets regularly with the Superintendent. It includes local business and community organization leaders plus other public officials.

All KSD stakeholders were asked to complete an online survey starting on Monday, Oct. 3 and continuing through Sunday, Oct. 9. This outreach was done through a landing page on the district website, social media posts, eblasts, robocalls and text messages. In addition, school leaders and staff facilitated times for students to take the survey during class time.

Responses were gathered with three similar but differentiated surveys:

Parents/Guardians 445
Staff 144
Students 1840

In September, the district leadership team selected 60 people to serve on the KSD Strategic Planning Committee. This committee included district and school leaders, staff, students, parents/guardians and community members. Based on the interest form responses and other factors, each committee member was assigned to a smaller group that addressed one of five major strategic focus areas:

  • Academics & Academic Support
  • Culture & Climate
  • Communications & Community Relations
  • Human Resources
  • Operations, Budget and IT

Over the course of five committee meetings starting on Oct. 3 and ending on Dec. 5, the members worked together with an open, collaborative and non-judgmental mindset to develop proactive solutions that best serve all students and the entire community.

Strategic Planning Committee Meetings:

  • Oct. 3 - Reviewed results of 2017-2022 Strategic Plan; plus-delta exercise
  • Oct. 17 - Reviewed strategic planning survey results; started work on the district’s new vision, mission and values
  • Nov. 1 - Finalize the vision, mission and values; discuss draft strategic goals and objectives as written by the subcommittees
  • Nov. 14 - Ongoing discussions about goals and objectives
  • Dec. 5 - Final review and approval of vision, mission, values, goals and objectives

Concurrent with the engagement process, district administrators took the lead in ensuring that the plan aligned with the MSIP 6 standards and process. That work included attending several workshops led by the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), plus ongoing discussions with DESE officials. In addition, invaluable consultation was provided by Dr. Jeanette Cowherd, who only recently retired after many successful years as superintendent of Park Hill School District.

The district leadership team listened attentively during committee meetings and used that input to continually improve and refine the draft strategic plan over several weeks. The public engagement efforts ended with an impressively large pool of feedback. A few important priorities emerged after distilling the input from the district’s community members:

  • Safety and security
  • Assure that student voices are heard and respected
  • Well-qualified teachers and staff
  • Caring learning environment/students having trusted adults
  • Helping students become good citizens and employees (college and career readiness; treating others with respect)
  • High student achievement
  • Align compensation with expectations
  • Fun and engaging educational experiences and opportunities
  • Transparency and accountability

From that list of priorities, the Strategic Planning Committee further identified four key pillars to support the district’s work during the life of this plan:

  1. Climate & Culture
  2. Academic Success & Student Support
  3. Responsive Leadership & Community Engagement
  4. Exemplary & Valued Employee

The four pillars combine to summarize how we are going to achieve our global ends: Bulldogs CARE! The result of this entire process is the engineering of a strategic plan that is focused on the core public education goals of the KSD community. Together, we will use this plan to build a school system structured on hometown values and achieving world-class results. This is how Kearney School District will frame a successful future for our students.

Vision, Mission, Values

Vision: Reaching beyond success to develop individuals of character

Mission: Kearney School District is committed to providing exemplary educational experiences in a safe and supportive learning environment where all students discover their gifts, find their voice, and develop into strong citizens for tomorrow.


  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Future Readiness
  • Student Focus
  • Resilience

Strategic Goals

  1. Climate & Culture - Kearney School District creates a safe learning environment of respect and belonging fostering a path to success.
  2. Academic Success & Student Support - Kearney School District delivers high-quality educational experiences supporting the diverse needs of all students.
  3. Responsive Leadership & Community Engagement - Kearney School District facilitates stakeholder engagement and empowers student voice.
  4. Exemplary & Valued Employees - Kearney School District is committed to high-quality staff who are dedicated to students.