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Board looks at how to update the strategic plan

The Cadott School Board Committee of the Whole met Feb. 3, to discuss updates to the district’s strategic plan.

During the meeting, members heard from two potential renewal facilitators, to talk about what the process might look like.

Cedric Boettcher, board member, started by talking about what the process for forming a strategic plan looked like for the plan currently in place. He said the board started by identifying pillars for the plan, before moving on to brainstorming and listing goals to be sorted under each of the pillars.

Drew Howick, Howick Associates, says he started working in strategic planning about 25 years ago with corporate organizations, and school districts the past 20 years. The first school strategic plan he did, brought together 60-70 people to talk about what they want to see in their school district and identify priorities.

Howick helped facilitate the community discussion, then assisted the board in putting together a plan that reflected the community’s wishes, what the educational professionals wanted and what the board thought was important.

Howick says he helps some districts with getting community input, while other districts, he helps the board draft the plan itself. He noted about half of the districts in the state have a strategic plan.

“And of the half that do it, there are probably as many types of strategic plans as there are districts,” said Howick.

He encouraged the board to start by thinking of what type of structure, format and level of detail they want the plan to have.

Jenny Starck, district administrator, asked board members their thought on the current format of the strategic plan. Rod Tegels, board president, said the plan seems a little

See STRATEGIC PLAN/ Page 3 overwhelming, with a broad, but not very deep, focus.

Howick suggested starting with the broad framework and challenging community members to come up with specific points to focus on. He used the example of a broad goal of getting more students internships, and having the community think of businesses and organizations that may be interested in providing internships for students.

Boettcher asked what the ideal timeframe for forming the plan is. Howick says it could be good to wait until after the April board elections, for the main planning process. He also noted which times of the year work best for large community gatherings.

Melissa Matarazzo, Studer Education, also talked about what services she can offer for strategic plan renewal facilitating. Matarazzo says she likes to use a strategic plan steering committee, formed with community members, parents, people within the district and some of the school board members. From there, the steering committee looks at where the district is and where they want to go next.

She also says a day or two of small focus groups can be held, with time for faculty, parents, student groups and other stakeholders to give input. From there, Matarazzo gathers all of the feedback and organizes it for the steering committee. Often, the steering committee forms a draft of the plan and brings it to the school board for feedback, and brings a final draft before the board for adoption.

Matarazzo suggested the board look at the current plan’s pillars, and decide what still rings true and what could use change, possibly with larger community help.

Starck asked Matarazzo what a large community meeting with the full board might look like.

“You could do it lots of ways, but one of the ways I would think about that, is some form of facilitated session,” said Matarazzo, adding an outside facilitator allows the board and administration to be active participants and listeners, instead of focusing on guiding the discussion.

She also noted breaking into small groups allow more people to speak up with their thoughts.

After hearing from both potential facilitators, school board members shared their thoughts on the current plan.

Mark Schley, board member, asked what goals on the current strategic plan have been met and which haven’t.

“So many of these, I can tell you...we wouldn’t have met the goal,” said Starck, adding it would be an important first step to look at where the district stands now and report out.

Starck also noted some of the goals relate to assessments that are no longer available.

Schley also asked to look at the strategic plans of similar schools. Starck agreed samples would be good to see how detailed other district’s plans are.

Since no action can be taken at Committee of the Whole meetings, the school board will discuss, and possibly vote on, the facilitator options, at the next regular board meeting.

Following the discussion on the strategic plan, members convened into closed session to discuss the fall coaches contracts and the superintendent evaluation.