Niles school district lays out strategic plan

After months of gathering information from community stakeholders through surveys, workshops, forums and other means, leaders of the Niles Community Schools district have developed a new strategic plan that will help guide the district in reaching future goals.

On Monday, the Niles school board ratified the plan by approving the district’s new mission statement, vision statement, beliefs and goal statements — all of which are components of the strategic plan.

“To use a Viking analogy, we wanted everybody to have their oars in the water at the same time and all pulling together,” said Greg O’Toole, school board president. “I think this was critical to getting to that point.”

Several school board members thanked all the people that took the time to help the district create the plan.

“I know it was a big process, but I think it was an important process,” said Jon Martin, school board member. “It is nice to see everything captured in a way that starts to bring some focus around areas and starts to map forward where we can go and how we can start to see the success that we all want.”

Documents summarizing the plan was presented to the school board Monday by Rod Green, a consultant with the Michigan Association of School Boards who was contracted by the district to help make the plan.

The summary document can be viewed by clicking here and the longer document by clicking here.

In order to make the best use of the strategic plan, Green advised the school board to keep everyone accountable by having administrators give progress reports every three or four months.

“The way to keep it alive is to have the board hear a report — that is a huge factor,” he said.

Green also said he was impressed by the amount of involvement and interest from the community in the development of the strategic plan.

He said the plan should build on the momentum created with the recent hiring of new Supt. Dan Applegate and the passage of a pair of school bond proposals worth $40 million.

Below are portions of the strategic plan approved by the board:

Mission statement

Niles Community Schools inspires and prepares all learners through diverse opportunities to challenge the present and enrich the future.

Vision statement

Niles Community Schools: Dynamic learners, diverse opportunities, driven to succeed


• Education is essential for future success

• All children can learn and achieve their personal best

• Children learn in different ways at different paces

• Schools must be a safe and secure environment

• The partnership of our staff, parents and community is vital to the success of our learners

• High expectations are important for all stakeholders

Goal statements

• Student achievement — We will improve student achievement and growth in all curricular areas

• Communications — We will establish excellence in communication both internally and externally

• Finance/operations/facilities — We will operate a transparent and fiscally responsible budget that allows the district to improve the educational environment

• Positive learning environment — We will provide a safe, respectful and positive learning environment


Round Oak’s impact on Dowagiac still felt 60 years later


Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac reach fundraising requirements for Russom Park Pavilion Project


Rotarian Walter Swann discusses life, community outreach

Cass County

Three Rivers man sentenced to probation for meth possession

Cass County

Edwardsburg man sentenced to one year for assault

Cass County

Cass County hosting workshop about child abuse prevention

Berrien County

Spectrum Health Lakeland revises visitor guidelines

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer asks residents to take COVID-19 precautions, high schools to suspend in-person activities


Cassopolis couple working to get musical nonprofit off the ground

Berrien County

Berrien County commissioners approve 911 grant


Edwardsburg/Ontwa Township Police Log: March 29 to April 5

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 723,297 cases, 16,400 deaths

Cass County

Cass County 4-H offering painting program

Berrien County

Johnson and Johnson vaccine clinic to be hosted at Niles-Buchanan YMCA

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer, MDHHS encourage spring break travelers to get tested for COVID-19

Berrien County

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Day taking place next week at LMC campus


Dowagiac District Library hosting poetry contest


Edwardsburg chamber fundraising to donate personalized tumblers to graduating seniors


Niles DDA takes on NODE expenses

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 715,478 cases, 16,327 deaths

Berrien County

Niles man hospitalized after motorcycle, SUV crash


Dowagiac Police Log: April 2-4


State approves Niles social district


Bureau of Land Management to offer wild horses, burros for adoption, sale at Cassopolis event