Oct. 1, 2014. Watauga County Schools Supt. Dr. Scott Elliott published the following letter in the Fall 2014 edition of The Learning Leader, the newsletter of the school system:
Reasons for Pride and Challenges to Meet
At the risk of repeating myself to those who I have already met, let me begin by saying how proud I am of this great school system and how pleased and grateful I am to be a part of it. We have outstanding teachers, excellent school administrators, strong support personnel, wonderfully engaged families, and a broad base of community support from the Watauga Education Foundation, ASU and CCC&TI, civic groups, local businesses, the faith community, and others too numerous to mention.
To all of you, thank you for making this an exceptional school system and a great place in which to live, work, and raise a family. My family and I look forward to living and working here with you for many years to come.
While we have a great deal to be proud of, we also have much work to do and real challenges to face. One of the ways in which we can organize that work and address those challenges is through the development and implementation of a strategic plan for our schools. We will be having discussions with the Board of Education this fall about the development of this plan. I come to that task with no pre- conceptions about the specific content of the plan, but I do have the conviction that a strategic plan worth the effort must be a useful document that will help us set clear priorities for the next several years and that will lay a foundation for measuring our progress toward important goals. To be useful, it needs to include specific objectives that will guide and re-focus our actions to better serve students.
I also believe it will be a stronger and more useful plan if we provide opportunities for diverse stakeholders to participate in its development. It’s only fair that those affected by the plan have input about its content and there’s a practical benefit of broad participation as well: a little pride of ownership up front will provide a lot of crucial buy-in down the road. Returning to the topic of the challenges we face, many of them involve pressures on our budget. We have made an important commitment to invest in instructional technology, but it is not sustainable without additional funding or adjustments to other areas of the budget. We have substantial capital needs in our schools that must be addressed. We know that wider access to pre-school makes a real difference for student success, yet we are currently serving less than 30 percent of this age group. We need an alternative school setting, but have no funds to provide one. State budgets for text- books and online resources have been woefully inadequate for several years. There are difficult choices ahead in confronting these and other concerns about our needs and our resources. While we face serious challenges, there are very few places with more strengths to meet them than this school system and this community. I am confident we can and will do whatever it takes to ensure our students receive the first class education they deserve. The wonderful things I heard about the Watauga County Schools before coming here have proven to be true, and then some. I am excited about what we can achieve together and look forward to working with you to make great things happen in our schools.
WCS Supt. Dr. Scott Elliott