Strategic Planning – Is it important?

This will be my first post on the subject of strategic planning but it will not be my last.  This issue is too important especially in light of the current economy. For those of you who have asked why this is so important I hope this post begins to answer that question.

Two years ago, then Superintendent Gary McHenry was asked to step down from his leadership position within MDUSD. One of the stated reasons by members of the School Board was his lack of a strategic plan and the fact that he did not appear to value the planning process. Two years later MDUSD still has no plan and quite frankly a plan does not appear to be as important to the School Board as it once was.

As parents and community members, why should we care about strategic planning? Doesn’t this district have enough to worry about without adding one more task to their long list of pressing issues? Negative economic forces are so strong won’t strategic planning become a distraction away from what is important?

I would argue that there has never been a time when a strategic plan was needed more than it is today. An organization with a $250,000,000 budget and 33,000 customers simply can not effectively make decisions and be proactive without a comprehensive strategy. Today’s economic forces will overwhelm an organization that does not plan.

How can MDUSD be assured that the cuts they are making are the most effective over time? For example, the school board cut technology support from many of the school sites and is now pursuing a school bond that will add new technology throughout district classrooms. Was that wise planning? Could they have known this would happen? I would argue yes, if they had had a strategic plan.

MDUSD does not currently have a clear policy for online learning, something that would certainly be considered in the strategic planning process. Without a plan, will our district leadership be able to effectively negotiate teacher contracts to provide a clear path to implementing innovation?

MDUSD will be raising $348,000,000 with the passage of bond Measure C this coming June. How will the money be spent? Are the Measure C goals part of long term planning or do they simply meet immediate needs and desires?

Our district leadership may successfully navigate their way through the examples above but without a plan they will continue to be reactive, they will continue to foster a lack of confidence amongst parents, and they will miss opportunities for reform and innovation because of a lack of clear goals and vision that is inherent in the strategic planning process.

Remind our district leaders that our kids deserve an education where a vision and a plan help to ensure the best use of our valuable resources.

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