Several weaknesses are hampering Fayette schools, review finds. Strategic plan is underway.

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From academics to organization, Fayette County Public Schools have multiple weaknesses, a management review released Thursday found.

School district officials will address the findings through a new strategic plan developed by a community advisory group and a staff working group.

The district is paying $87,200 for a follow up review of organizational alignment, communications, human resources, equity office, financial services, operations, teaching and learning and family and community engagement. An initial review from the same consultants occurred in 2016.

Scott Joftus, president of the Maryland-based educational consulting firm Four Point Education Partners, gave school board members several findings at a Thursday meeting that included:

School improvements are not implemented evenly or as effectively as possible.

The Central Office’s organizational structure is not optimized to meet the needs of schools. Data should be more accessible and usable.

Job responsibilities and authorities are frequently not understood.

Several barriers are preventing schools from implementing the curriculum effectively and ensuring educational excellence and equity for all students.

Greater attention needs to be paid to students who are struggling academically, with tutoring, smaller classes and other support.

Professional development is not a strength of the district, with only four days officially set aside.

The need for equity work is great. Achievement rates among Black and Hispanic students attending schools with high concentrations of minority students are lower than those attending schools with lower concentrations of minority students.

The district is “not getting it quite right” in the Department of Equity, which has been in flux for a number of years. The department should be restructured and data used to hold Central Office accountable for lowering the achievement gap of minority and disabled students, the review found.

Family and community engagement is not well coordinated.

Communication has not been prioritized by district leadership.

The district struggles to hire staff of color.

The Department of Human Resources is not set up correctly and is likely understaffed.

There should be more standard operating procedures in areas such as maintenance.

Student enrollment and staffing projections are not handled effectively.

A comprehensive review of the district’s informational and instructional technology is needed. That is especially important because adequate staff was not added after students were assigned laptops to help with virtual learning.

On a positive note, the review found the school district is in sound financial condition.

Also, the review found the school district had introduced several systems -- including preschool -- to improve teaching and learning and educational equity. And the review found the district has a strong student behavior management system.

Central Office staff will be asked to improve support for schools, improve communication, promote equity and use data to improve performance.

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