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The Ram’s Horn

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By Dustin Shipman BSSD Superintendent

“The Ram’s Horn” is a regular column by Big Sky School District Superintendent Dustin Shipman, offering news and insight from the district.

The Big Sky School District, in partnership with Carney Sandoe and Associates, embarked on a strategic planning process in September. This is a necessary process for schools in the 21st century in order to clarify the visions, hopes and dreams of constituents – or anyone involved in the school district, including students, parents and community members.

The strategic plan, when processed and administered efficiently also provides the guidance to leadership for making day-to-day, as well as long-term decisions within the scope of the plan. In addition, planning provides a road map for schools to follow while minimizing the turnover of key staff and leadership. Essentially, it allows us to plan our work and then work our plan.

Our partnership with Carney Sandoe could not have been more productive to date and during an on-site visit in September, our consultant met with more than 120 constituent members personally. The firm also facilitated our community survey, which solicited 731 responses.

Respondents included current, past and prospective parents of students; faculty and staff; current students and alumni; board members and community members. The answers were thoughtful and provided the information for the steering committee to meet and develop the strategic areas of focus for BSSD.

The consulting group took the qualitative data and filtered the strategic feedback from the operational. Once the strategic data was extrapolated, the consultant returned to Big Sky during the second week of October. The steering committee had an eight-hour work session in which we reviewed the data and identified six strategic categories and points of support for the strategic categories.

The major goal of the steering committee was to remain objective and craft a plan anchored in the data collected.

We will now bring the plan to focus groups. Our first, and hopefully largest, focus group for the public will be at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to your continued participation in this important work for the Big Sky community.

Visit to view BSSD’s draft strategic plan. If you’re unable to attend the Nov. 17 focus group, contact Superintendent Shipman at or Principal Alex Ide at and a separate focus group can be arranged.

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