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KCSD develops arts strategic plan

Posted: January 10, 2013 6:50 p.m.
Updated: January 11, 2013 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) has developed and adopted a brand new strategic plan enabling students to “explore, discover, express, create and succeed” through the exploration of the arts. KCSD administrators and a committee of arts-affiliated community members have worked for several months to develop the “Strategic Plan for the Arts” through the year 2018.

The proposed draft, however, projects arts programming as far as 2021 with the hire of additional arts educators, and the development of everything from honors and AP art and dance programs to acquiring kilns and the utilization of Suzuki music instructors.

In September, a 20-member committee worked with Christine Fisher, director of the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project at Winthrop University, for three days to streamline the plan and create an entirely new “quality document,” Executive Director for K-12 Instructional Support Programs Dr. Alisa Goodman said in an interview. The committee members are associated with the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, teachers, and administrators and will evaluate the school district’s progress each year to make sure the district is progressing toward the established goals and mission statement.

There has previously been a strategic plan for the arts but budget adjustments forced the district to cut a wide variety of areas, ultimately affecting arts programming, Director of Communications Mary Anne Byrd said. Goodman, who presented the plan Tuesday to the Kershaw County School Board of Trustees, has helped spearhead the plan which aims to reinstate and expand previous district programs. The Kershaw County Board of Trustees voted unanimously to adopt the plan. Goodman joined the district administration last July after she finished her doctoral program at the University of South Carolina. She has previously served as a principal of arts-focused elementary schools and an arts magnet school, as well as a past president of Lancaster County Council of the Arts, according to her biography in the strategic plan document.

“When we reorganized responsibilities in the district office last spring, one of the things I asked Dr. Goodman to do is to go back and see what we can do with external funding to start bringing the arts back and one of the requirements to be able to apply for some of the various grants is to have a five-year strategic plan of the arts,” KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said during the meeting. “I’m really pleased with this piece of work. It’s a road map with some flexibility.”

The district has four goals: provide a “sequential and comprehensive education” in the arts; provide ongoing staff development for all teachers and administrators in arts; build school, government, business and community support and partnerships in the arts; and establish proper facilities at all schools and provide resources for teaching and integrating the arts.

The KCSD was one of the original ABC sites in 1985, Goodman said, but lost their designation in 2010. ABC is sponsored by the South Carolina Arts Foundation. Previously, the district heavily participated in artists in residency program. Currently, there is only an average of one artist in residency per year on the elementary and middle school levels. Goodman hopes to increase the number of artists in residency programs throughout the next several years, she said. There are also plans to reinstate full-time, quality arts teachers and bring back art, music, theatre and dance programs to the all levels of K-12 education in the county. Writing will eventually become a focus, as well as AP art programs for those interested in pursuing art as a career, Goodman said.

District resources, a variety of grants and local support will help create the school district’s vision, which includes “an annual arts gala, elementary strings program, and a week-long summer program for gifted arts students,” according to the executive summary of the strategic plan. These elements will be implemented over time, however. This year, the plan is to inform the community and implement “in-house curriculum improvements and guides in all areas, adding choral programs to each of the high schools,” Goodman said. From there the district will work on facilities that create foster ideal practice conditions for various art programs and working to finding and fix musical equipment for district students.

“The arts are a part of a comprehensive education,” Goodman said. “The most well-educated people among us value the arts. They may not excel in the arts themselves, but they value and appreciate the arts. A highly educated person values the arts: they are a vehicle for providing instruction in other disciplines.”

“There is so much research now about the connection between quality arts instruction in schools and high test scores. That’s another reason we wanted to create this plan and improve the quality of what we are doing. We aren’t all about high test scores, but they are the measure of what we do, of the quality of our work; so, certainly we want to influence an arts-rich environment if it does influence positivity within the school setting.”

Goodman said arts education can stay with a person for years, and that’s why the committee took their time to plan details that will develop an “arts-rich environment.”

“You might not be able to play football when you are 80,” Goodman said during the board meeting, “but you can still paint and write a story.”

The plan was created with the end goal in mind, she said.

“When you have an arts program at any level, you want to be able to continue to offer those services,” Byrd added.

She said Phase I of the Facilities Equalization Program helped build auditoriums at North Central High School and Camden High and the arts plan will help put programs on their stages.

“We’d be further behind without these types of elements,” Byrd said.

The district will apply for an ABC grant Tuesday and 14 individual schools will submit grants for a $20,000 Distinguished Arts Program grant through the state department in March. Goodman said the district is going to “look for everything we can find.” In the end, the district is looking to add approximately 10 additional arts teachers as faculty members. Fewer than 20 percent of school districts across the state have strategic art plans, Goodman said; some schools have their own strategic arts plan. Camden Middle School developed its own, for instance.

KCSD provides arts education to approximately 11,000 students each year.

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