Dothan City Schools, Alabama

Engaging Citizen Leaders in Sustaining Public Education

Dothan, Alabama is a city of 67,382 (2012) with a public school system of approximately 9400 students. The student body is 60% African American, 35% White, 3% Hispanic, and 2% other. There are two high schools, eleven elementary and four middle schools. The system has a few Pre-K classrooms but does not as of this writing offer universal Pre-k.  A forward thinking administration in collaboration with the local Wiregrass Foundation launched a comprehensive strategic planning process to advance public education and retained Millennia Consulting to design and guide the endeavor. Over an eight-month period, a diverse array of hundreds of citizens participated in interviews, focus groups, and online surveys that gathered the perceptions of parents, teachers, students, administrators, school board members, business leaders, city officials, and other community leaders regarding local education.

Energized by the inclusive, data-driven process and a complementary communications strategy, a steering committee of twenty citizen-leaders went to work and developed their vision for the Dothan Public Schools— a future in which every student will graduate prepared for immediate entry into college or career, accomplished with educational programs and strategies that are innovative, flexible, student-centered, and which leverage the wisdom and energy of parents and communities.

Unlike some school system plans that focus entirely on teaching and learning, this plan also advances strategies that build community pride, spirit, support and investment in the Dothan City Schools. It includes pre-k for all, high school to college bridge programs and social emotional supports. In short, Dothan City leaders recognized through this planning process that investment in their public schools equals investment in the City of Dothan.