Hilltop Elementary School
12250 24th Avenue South Burien, WA 98168

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Superintendent Message: Next Steps on Strategic Planning

Superintendent Message: Next Steps on Strategic Planning

Listening Tours & Strategic Planning

Dr. Ivan Duran

Greetings Highline Community,

Over the last several months, I have spent many hours meeting with and listening to our students. Every student I encountered expressed a similar desire. Our students want a seat at the table and they want to share their experiences. They want us to listen and to take meaningful action based on their perspectives.

The goal of my fall listening tour was to better understand how students are experiencing the Highline Promise, how we can capitalize on our strengths as a district and what we need to do differently to deliver on our Promise for every student.

Listening Tour Feedback

During my listening tour, I heard directly from students, staff, families and community members. We held 27 focus groups and seven community meetings. I met with students and staff during school visits and department meetings. We collected feedback through an online ThoughtExchange. I met with community partners and employee association partners. 

We have many things to be proud of in Highline. Some of our strengths include:  

  • Students report being known by name and having at least one meaningful relationship with an adult at their school. 
  • Students can articulate their strengths and feel their strengths are acknowledged by adults. 
  • Families express a deep sense of gratitude and growing satisfaction with Highline.
  • Staff and board members share a deep dedication to the communities they serve and to equitable practice and policy.

The listening tour also highlighted areas where we need to improve. In Highline, we must:

  • Ensure every student feels safe and welcome at school and address bullying.
  • Provide academic experiences that stretch and challenge students and prepare them for future success.
  • Improve policies, practices and programs to provide consistent support to students receiving special education services.
  • Strengthen the partnership between schools and central office in support of students.
  • Recommit to the Highline Promise to achieve equity and focus our efforts on the strategic plan goals.
  • Offer equitable opportunities to students across schools.

For more detail about our strengths and areas for improvement, please read the focus group report from the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Washington.

Next Steps: Strategic Plan Development

Our current strategic plan will sunset in June 2023. The listening tour feedback will shape the development of a new strategic plan. 

Our next step is to review and update the current strategic plan goals. I am committed to courageous goals for every student, grounded in equity and driven by a sincere belief in our students' abilities and their aspirations for the future. 

Based on the listening tour feedback, we know we need to focus on:

  • Creating inclusive school cultures where students experience a sense of belonging.
  • Providing exceptional and equitable experiences that result in better outcomes for students.
  • Preparing our students for the future they choose.
  • Ensuring operational efficiency and excellence.

We will continue to gather feedback from students, staff, families and the community as we develop the strategic plan. In February, we will ask you to share your feedback on updated goals through an online ThoughtExchange. 

We anticipate reviewing the updated goals and your feedback with the School Board in March. We plan to bring the goals for Board adoption in April. We will develop metrics and implementation plans following the Board’s approval.

I look forward to the strategic plan development process as we challenge ourselves to think about how to best meet the needs of every student at Highline.

Living the Promise,


Ivan Duran, Ed.D.