One year after the School Committee initiated a formal strategic planning process, the product is far from complete, there’s been little opportunity for public input, and the calendar is one year closer to the committee’s vision statement deadline of 2018 to be among the top 100 school districts in the country.
The process began with a meeting Sept. 10, 2013, during which the School Committee came up with this purpose statement:
“To provide each and every student in EG the opportunity to obtain a world class education; that is, the acquisition of and thirst for knowledge, and the ability to utilize that knowledge in a meaningful and productive way throughout life.”
At the same workshop, the panel approved a “vision statement” with the goal that East Greenwich Public Schools would be nationally recognized for innovation and academic excellence and ranked in the top 100 by 2018 and in the top 10 percent internationally by 2023.
The School Committee established an ad hoc strategic planning committee Sept. 17, 2013. The eventual 17-member panel was made up of seven teachers, three school principals, four community members, two Town Council members and one student who met three times in October and November 2013.
During those meetings, members identified the district’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, a method often referred to as a SWOT analysis. That was one of the four duties of the ad hoc committee as outlined in its charge. The remaining duties were to participate in forums; assist in development and support the objectives and goals of the institutional strategic plan; and make recommendations regarding aspects of the strategic planning to the School Committee.
The ad hoc meetings were posted and open to the public, but no meeting minutes have been made available. It is unclear when or if the ad hoc committee will be reconvened to take up those other duties.
According to School Committee Chairman David Green, the School Committee has used the ad hoc panel’s SWOT analysis to identify eight overall areas of focus:
- Student engagement
- Leverage technology
- Human capital
- Curriculum Development Engagement
- School safety
- Optimize school day
- Align public/private partnerships
“It’s far from done,” Green said of the process in August. “What has been done is a sequential building of the framework and we’re starting to put detail into the framework.”
Much of that work has taken place under the radar but Green said the public will have an opportunity to weigh in.
“Once we have something in a digestible format, it’s time for a deliberate solicitation for input,” he said. “The skeleton of the strategic plan is built piece by piece, bone by bone, each time you get together, you add muscle, and flesh.”
Green said the strategic plan is now in the hands of school administrators, who have the job of coming up with tangible action plans, what Green calls “the fun part of the strategic plan.”
One example, he said, is trying to “flatten” the bus schedule (to go from a three-tier system to a two-tier system). “There might be a specific action step associated with a particular strategy,” said Green. “When you come up with that – what’s it going to take, is there a cost to that, are there regulatory hurdles, how long will it take … it’s a plan. It isn’t a wish list.”
The idea is that people will be able to look at the strategic plan and “actually see specifically what we are trying to do.”