The importance of strategic planning

By Lisa McCullough, Superintendent, SD48 (Sea to Sky) and Rick Price, Board Chair, SD48 (Sea to Sky)

Strategic Planning plays a critical role in achieving the outcomes of any organization.

It is a significant distraction or an actual barrier when boards or staffs are perpetually caught up in such questions as, “What are our guiding principles? What are we trying to achieve? What do my students need for their future? How does the board want our work to be done? What sort of employees are we looking for? How do we prioritize our spending? What will convince the board and its partners that our work is having the intended effect? Why hasn’t anyone asked me? What stated values illuminate this difficult decision?”

Effective, system-wide high-level planning leads us collectively toward a unified, planned and purposeful end result. Or, if done poorly, leads us “madly off in all directions”.  Our work, without cohesion, leads to student achievement results being hit and miss at best, continuous stress and discord for our employees, and a board frustrated that its vision is not being met – mainly because it doesn’t have one. By collaboratively establishing a plan for our employees, students and our communities, we set everyone up for success and become a more powerful team in accomplishing our common goals.

It is essential when doing this work that boards reach out widely, listen carefully, keep the vision high enough for different groups to find themselves within it, expect and support alignment, and relentlessly maintain a focus on student learning outcomes rather than a long list of programs or initiatives. Following a well-planned, high level vision from the Board, and a collaboratively designed education plan for your district, attention can be turned to the alignment of all other service plans with precise student learning outcomes in mind.

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