2021 Strategic Plan Update

A Message from Superintendent Joe Gothard

  • Dr Gothard headshotDear Saint Paul Public Schools Community,

    When we introduced our five-year SPPS Achieves strategic plan in 2018, we were living in a different world. The COVID-19 pandemic affected every sector in different ways, and education was hit particularly hard. 

    Some of our students and staff thrived despite the extremely difficult circumstances, while many others faced insurmountable obstacles that greatly impacted their ability to learn and engage. Coupled with the racial reckoning brought on by the murder of George Floyd, this year forced all of us to look at our lives and our work differently.

    Reflecting on what we did well and what we could have done better is an important and ongoing exercise in strategic planning. Despite the setbacks and pivots that the past year required, we have a lot to celebrate while also looking ahead to the next school year and beyond.

    First and foremost, we added a new focus area: Systemic Equity. While equity has been embedded in the plan from the beginning, it became clear that we needed to elevate it as a primary focus area. This important work to remove barriers and interrupt practices that disproportionately impact our students of color has already begun, and will continue to be refined as we create ways to build consciousness and awareness around fairness, justice and equity throughout SPPS.

    We are also celebrating other achievements. Social emotional learning strategies were adapted for digital spaces; school leaders are learning about culturally relevant instruction; schedules and lessons were redesigned for distance learning; and we launched a new personal learning plan tool as part of our college and career readiness initiative.

    It’s also important to recognize what we didn’t accomplish. Time and resources shifted to managing the pandemic and supporting distance learning at the expense of many other priorities. We had to pause three initiatives and redirect others, and we did not meet the state’s goals for grade-level literacy or closing the achievement gap. 

    We also know that, despite the additional funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and previous COVID-19 allocations, we will need to make some difficult decisions to ensure we are equipped to offer all of our students a well-rounded education.

    Looking forward, I remain steadfastly committed to student achievement and improving long-term outcomes. Our recently completed needs assessment identified many parallels between what our stakeholders need and our strategic plan. 

    Thank you for being part of our Saint Paul Public Schools community. We are ready to take on the challenges and opportunities ahead with your involvement and support.


    In partnership,

    Joe Gothard signature

    Joe Gothard, Superintendent

Focus Areas

  • Systemic Equity (Added in 2021)

    Positive School and District Culture

    Effective and Culturally Responsive Instruction

    College and Career Readiness 

    Program Evaluation/Resource Allocation

    Family and Community Engagement