City of Murfreesboro Schools Strategic Plan Focuses on Mental Health

Mental health is a key anchor in the City of Murfreesboro Schools Strategic Plan, which outlines nearly 40 goals that will guide decision-making for the district through 2027.

Joe Marlin, assistant superintendent of instruction for MCS, said the strategic plan’s focus on mental health is partly related to the short-term effects the pandemic has had on students.

The district plan, recently approved by his school board, ensures that funding for mental health support will nearly double over the next five years. The initiative also calls on local partnerships.

“Our hope for providing mental health supports is that we can help children who may be struggling so that the effects are short-term rather than long-term,” Marlin said.

The district currently works with two agencies — Centerstone and STARS — which provide counselors during the school day and after school. Referrals are made by parents, school counsellors, social workers, teachers or administrators.

“Good mental health is important because it allows children to think clearly, develop socially, and learn new skills that prepare them for adulthood,” Marlin explained. “The skills students can learn in these counseling sessions can help them cope with stress and anxiety and will be skills they can use for the rest of their lives.”

The focus on mental health is part of the four-pronged plan to support the whole child so that everyone is known, safe, challenged and empowered through the 42 strategies that will be implemented.

MCS leaders spent a year conducting research and receiving feedback from board members, parents, educators, community partners and administrators.

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“The five-year plan recognizes that equity is essential to meeting the needs of the whole child,” said MCS director Trey Duke. “Our goal is to give students tools for success that will last well beyond their years at Murfreesboro City Schools and to give our employees the support needed to ensure MCS is a top-notch place to work.”

Here is an overview of the five-year strategic plan:

Known

Every student will be known through programs and support for the whole child.

Strategies include:

  • Implementing after-school programs to ensure students have opportunities for engagement based on their interests.
  • Creation of the Mobile Family Resource Center to offer monthly training in various contexts.
  • Implementation of bullying awareness programs.
MTSU football player Brent Stockstill cheers on Wilson Elementary's Jesse Gowen during the softball pitch as part of the Zone 16 Special Olympics featuring Rutherford and Murfreesboro County schools along with other independent groups who hosted Olympics at MTSU Football Field and Track Stadium on Friday, April 13, 2018.

Safe

Every student will be safe with equitable access to buildings, facilities and infrastructure that meet their needs.

Officials realize that Murfreesboro continues to welcome new families, the school system must adapt.

“We want to make sure we’re maximizing the current space we have, so we did some rezoning,” Duke said. “We assess these (areas) every year … and we work with the city and have conversations now to talk about the need for new schools.”

Duke said there are no immediate plans to open a new school within the next two years. Yet expansion is imminent on the west side of Murfreesboro.

Construction will likely include a new transportation hub; the current facility off the New Salem Highway has exceeded its capacity. The new hub may also include a maintenance facility.

“We’re looking at that in three or four years,” Duke said. “With rising construction costs and rising land prices, we are trying to balance all of that out.”

The City of Murfreesboro School Board addresses the issue of masks in schools in the City of Murfreesboro at its meeting on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 after an increase in the number of Covid cases in schools.  Image of school board member David Settles is televised as he talks about his grandchild's safety issue in the school system as not all students wear masks in schools.

Disputed

Each student will be challenged to learn from highly effective educators and staff.

As the district continues to face challenges with an unstable labor market, the strategic plan will regularly assess and implement incentives to retain and train educators. Strategies include:

  • Salary assessments should be comparable to neighboring districts.
  • Mentoring and leadership programs for educators, as well as development opportunities.
Teachers and professors from Mitchell Neilson Schools hang out of a school bus window during a bus parade to cheer on members of the City of Murfreesboro Schools Central Office during their bus parade held on Thursday, May 21, 2020 in front of the central office.  Parade buses and cars passed the City of Murfreesboro Schools Central Office in honor of Linda Gilbert, Director of Schools for the City of Murfreesboro, who died Wednesday.  Jennifer Clunie of the City of Murfreesboro Central Schools Office waves as a bus passes.

Authorized

Each student will be empowered by academic success.

Strategies to ensure higher test scores include:

  • Increased access to high quality educational materials and electronic educational devices.
  • Professional development and training to meet data-driven educational needs.
  • STEM support for schools.

Contact reporter Nancy DeGennaro at [email protected]


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