For decades, school districts have undertaken strategic planning efforts. Meetings and presentations have been attended, and publications have been produced. Developing a strategic plan has fostered cohesion across school districts. Staff were motivated to meet the challenges and reach the goals we collectively identified. In our experience in creating and facilitating these efforts, three important lessons have emerged.
- Seek broad stakeholder input. – In today’s world of communication, obtaining stakeholder input is easy. Reach out to stakeholders using all available methods. Yes, hold town hall meetings, but utilize social media and online surveys to gather as many touch points as possible. Prepare a good survey. Analyze the responses. Face the results with honesty.
- Reach consensus early. – To avoid conflicts and mixed messages late in the process, district leadership should reach consensus early in the process on the goal areas that need to be addressed. The school board, district leadership, and key stakeholders should speak as one voice. Once a decision is made on a goal area – e.g., facilities – then the time spent crafting meaningful goal statements and strategies is more purposeful.
- Ask the right people the right questions. – Identifying educational needs and prescribing effective actions to meet those needs must be performed by the experts. Asking the bank president to identify effective strategies to increase kindergarten readiness or improve early childhood literacy is ridiculous. Asking the construction company president about desired workforce skills is definitely appropriate. Let stakeholders work in their areas of expertise. Let community experts speak for the community, and let education experts design the educational solutions.
In the strategic planning efforts facilitated by Impact Education Group, we work with community surveys, focus groups, a key stakeholder team, and district action teams to develop a strategic plan. Our seven-step approach allows us to Define, Discover, Document, Diagnose, Develop, Design, and Debut your strategic plan. Click Here for more information and examples of our work.