More than a year in the making, RSS launches strategic plan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools officially launched a project more than a year in the making Monday.

The district assembled invitees in the third-floor conference room at Wallace Educational Forum to hear about a project Superintendent Tony Watlington named a priority when he arrived at the district a year ago.

“Today’s a special day,” RSS Board Chair Dean Hunter told an audience attended by many of the members of a steering committee that worked on the project, dubbed “Renewal 2027.”

That steering committee, made up of 45 members, included a mix of students, parents, board members, staff and consultants.

Hunter described the district as the state’s leader in innovation for several years, referencing the special renewal status granted to the district by the state.

Watlington described the status to the crowd, that it gives the district freedoms normally only afforded to charter schools to the district at large. That means exemption from some calendar rules, curriculum requirements, budgetary constraints and limitations on who can be hired as a teacher.

He showed a new version of the district’s directional system. The pie chart representation of the idea normally encompasses interpersonal skills, academic skills and unique life goals in a wheel feeding into each other. The new graphic shows those concepts as well, with human capital, community engagement and operational efficiency listed as sub-goals below.

Watlington walked through the pieces of of the puzzle the district has sought approval on in the past few months. The two big pieces are goals the district has set through 2027 and strategies it intends to use to pursue them.

There are 13 goals and 42 strategies. They include improving academic skills like better literacy rates literacy, hitting growth targets and reducing the number of low-performing schools in the district. There are goals aimed at improving interpersonal skills, community involvement and the operational efficiency of the district.

The district Board of Education approved the goals in December, and the strategies were the main talking points of the board’s annual retreat in February.

The district has posted a document listing the contents of the plan on its website at

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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