Is Strategic Planning Still as Important as it was in 2008?

Superintendent Lawrence has recently indicated a desire to set goals and objectives rather than embark on the task of strategic planning. What does that mean? How does it differ from strategic planning? Will stakeholders be involved?
This week the Superintendent made a decision to move a Principal and then not move a Principal. This week the Board was faced with stalled and contentious union negotiations. School closures appear on the horizon, as well as $348 million dollars worth of facility improvements. The May revise means $1.5 million more in budget cuts. How will our district leadership know the best path to navigate without the compass provided through strategic planning?

According to J.M. Bryson author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations (1995), strategic planning is:

“a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does and why it does it. To deliver the best results, strategic planning requires broad yet effective information gathering, development and exploration of strategic alternatives, and an emphasis on future implications of present decisions.”

In difficult budgetary times like those facing our district today, strategic planning is more critical then ever. How can our district leadership make decisions with respect to expenditures, cuts, and reform without a clear vision for the future?

February 2008 Paul Strange – Clayton Pioneer

“The governor’s budget (proposal) is devastating to our district,” Strange added. “If that becomes the budget, we will have to cut some $14 million in one year alone. For me, maybe the main issue is that the district has no strategic planning – no strategic plan.”

In 2008 strategic planning was a major topic amongst some members of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education and amongst those seeking (re)election to the board. The lack of strategic planning was presented as a fundamental reason for the 2008 board minority request that Superintendent Gary McHenry resign.

May 2008 Paul Strange – MDUSD Blog

“Our readers are undoubtedly aware that one of the reasons Mr. Eberhart and I have called for the Superintendent to resign is that the Superintendent (and the majority of the board) have refused to engage in a strategic planning process. Mr. Eberhart and I have been pushing for strategic planning for some time and the board has told us no.”

Fall 2008 Sherry Whitmarsh campaign website

“Our district needs a rolling strategic plan for the next 3 – 5 years. This plan needs to be developed through collaboration among all members of the MDUSD community which includes administration, teachers, office managers, custodians, students, parents, special education instructors, business leaders, and community members. A strategic plan will give our district direction and purpose. It will guide us as we proceed through times of economic crisis and economic growth. It will help all parents, employees, and community members understand the mission, vision and goals of the district.”

November 2008 Gary Eberhart – Ballot Statement Re-election Campaign

The Board must assert its leadership role in bringing all stakeholders together to begin the process of establishing a strategic plan for our district. Every teacher, administrator, custodian, clerical employee, all other employees, parents, and all students should know what the vision of our school district is. We need to plan for our future and control the destiny of our district. Our students can no longer afford for our district to only be reactionary. We must have a vision and a plan for student success. We must anticipate the challenges that we will face and plan for those challenges.

Is a strategic plan still important to our board members? If yes, how will they reconcile strategic planning with setting “goals and objectives”? When will this happen? …before $348 million of Measure C money is spent? …before the school closure list is completed? Shouldn’t this be a priority?


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