LOS LUNAS — Seeking a more unified, targeted approach in improving student learning outcomes, Los Lunas Schools Superintendent Ryan Kettler recently began the process of creating a strategic plan for the district.  

“Los Lunas Schools has a good vision and mission as well as foundational assumptions, but I did not see a current, or any strategic plan, for that matter,” said Kettler at the Jan. 23 board of education meeting. “Not having that plan is significant, as it articulates our shared vision, mission and values and gives our school organization around common priorities and goals.” 

Ryan Kettler
LLS superintendent

A big part of Kettler’s 100 day entry plan, which began in August 2023, included gathering input from LLS stakeholders to obtain a full picture of the district’s performance, trends and strategic direction.  

To accomplish this, he interviewed all board members, several campus administrators, district directors and more. In November 2023, the district also sent out three separate surveys via email to all district office staff, campus staff and LLS students’ families. Forty six district office staff members, 374 campus staff members and educators and 863 family members took part in the survey.  

Kettler said the district then partnered with Loom, an external company, to help design a strategic plan derived from all the data collected from the interviews and surveys.  

“(Loom) turns mission-driven ideas into results with people-centered actions,” said Kettler. “It will define how success is measured, increase our communication and engagement and connect all stakeholders to a common plan in setting students up for success.” 

The superintendent then shared some key takeaways from the survey data that will serve as the foundation for the strategic plan.  

Survey results

“Our district has a high degree of pride and investment in the school system and overall, staff feel aligned with district priorities and strategy,” he said. “Staff also feel clear on their roles and how they are evaluated.” 

However, Kettler said the district can improve communication of priorities and decisions that affect stakeholders as parents want more communication and transparency at the district level. 

“Communication to families is particularly important because survey responses showed that they have the least understanding of and alignment with our district priorities,” said the superintendent. “We can also be more intentional about the volume, speed and communication of new programs and initiatives that require time and engagement from educators and staff to ensure they understand when, how and why changes are happening.” 

Kettler said the district talent systems can be improved to recruit and hire talented staff more effectively and to support managers in providing more meaningful feedback to staff. He said the district can also strengthen teaching and learning systems, as well as structures and supports to help educators serve students more effectively, particularly students with special needs.  

Image courtesy of Los Lunas Schools.

Of those who completed the survey, 90 percent of district office staff and 80 percent of campus staff agreed they are proud to work at LLS and plan to stay next year. About 60 percent of families are proud and roughly 80 percent of families plan on staying.  

Less than half of the families who participated in the survey reported feeling clear on goals and priorities of LLS, and only about 40 percent of families agreed that district staff communicate proactively and listen effectively. 

About 40 percent of responding campus staff agreed that the district office proactively provides helpful support and only 50 percent, roughly, are satisfied with instructional material and supports.  

A slide in Kettler’s presentation stated interviews revealed stakeholders are fatigued by the number of initiatives in the district, which include new instructional materials.  

“Several site administrators note their frustration with the number of initiatives they are expected to implement. District office staff and site administrators note that educators struggle to implement initiatives well because the district moves on too quickly,” the presentation read.  

Kettler said next steps in the development of the strategic plan include identifying and discussing themes, outliers and priorities gathered from the survey, interviews and historical data.  

“With Loom, we’ll use that (data) to frame the information as problem statements that will then set the stage for a successful root cause analysis using the five whys protocol which asks why do we have this challenge. And four times asking why is that the case? Because ultimately what we want to identify is the underlying cause,” said Kettler.  

The next step, he said, will be to pressure test the root causes to ensure they’re truly the root causes and not just a contributing cause. 

“There is still a lot of work still to be done and we are starting to bring others into the fold because, as I told administrators in November, the strategic plan isn’t Dr. Kettler’s strategic plan it’s all of our plan, so we all have to have input and get behind it,” Kettler concluded.  

Board comments

Board member Justin Talley noted a survey result from the presentation that stated only about 60 percent of district office and campus staff report receiving meaningful coaching and feedback to improve in their role. He asked Kettler how that can be improved. 

Kettler said that is something he wanted to see a higher survey response on because they only received responses from 46 district office staff members and 374 campus staff members out of the more than 2,000 staff members.  

Image courtesy of Los Lunas Schools.

“Putting that aside, I think we need to get more input from staff for professional development days to meet their needs. I think sometimes we think we know what teachers need, but we forget to ask the teachers,” Kettler responded. 

Board president Michelle Osowski commended Kettler for making himself visible throughout the district and for all the efforts he’s made to gather community perspectives.  

“I’m curious to see how Loom will help you take all the information and give us people-centered actions,” she said. “That’s either going to be a buzzword or something pretty phenomenal, so just know that it’s on my radar.” 

Osowski also mentioned that she is happy he mentioned stakeholders and staff are experiencing initiative fatigue as it’s a common problem across the nation.  

“I will be looking forward to a plan within the strategic plan about how we will be reducing the number of those initiatives so we can be doing high quality work with fidelity of implementation,” said Osowski. “Otherwise, it’s money down the drain and we’re exhausted.” 

Kettler said in the coming months he will be working with Loom on establishing specific strategies and actions to advance the selected priorities. The current timeline aims for refinement and launch of the strategic plan to take place in May and performance management throughout June and July.   

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.