2014 WAS THE TIME FOR A FOCUSED, RESULTS-ORIENTED STRATEGIC PLAN AND PLANNING PROCESS FOR UPPER ARLINGTON SCHOOLS. THE FOCUS WAS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST FOR STUDENTS.
As we approached the end of the 2009–2014 strategic plan, it was critically important to we build upon recent community conversations and create a roadmap for our future that ensures our schools offer a world-class education while operating in an efficient manner. Our world is continuously changing, and we need to ensure our district is agile enough to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that come with these changes. We needed a succinctly worded, clearly stated strategic plan, mission statement and vision statement that is reflective of what our students need to learn in order to grow and flourish in the modern world.
THE NEW STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS INCLUDED ELEMENTS FROM PRIVATE-SECTOR MODELS AND WAS BASED ON A CLEAR-EYED ANALYSIS OF WHERE THE DISTRICT IS AND WHERE IT NEEDS TO GO.
Our district’s rich history of achievement and tradition provides an extraordinary foundation for our new strategic plan. We will build upon the past and measurably improve the district’s operational efficiency and academic quality. Our process was designed to create a three-year plan around a small set of critical issues tied to actionable and measurable recommendations. The term is shorter than five-year plans of the past so that we can better react to the fast pace of today’s society and quickly demonstrate measurable growth to our community.
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN THE PROCESS FOCUSED ON SOLUTIONS.
Based on our recent conversations with the community, it was clear what issues we needed to address—operational efficiencies and effectiveness, and educational quality and relevance. We knew we must involve our stakeholders in actionable solutions to these concerns. Solutions that are affordable, cost effective, and help the district maintain and enhance the community’s long-standing commitment to a high-quality education that includes a robust and varied curriculum enhanced with significant extracurricular opportunities. Throughout the process, there were updates from our work team leaders and opportunities for community members to provide insight and feedback.
THE PLANNING PROCESS WAS A STRAIGHTFORWARD AND ACCELERATED TWO-PHASE APPROACH.
The first phase ran from April to August and resulted in a strategic analysis of the following three questions, which were researched and developed following our community conversations in the fall of 2013:
- Quality Profile - What is the best way for Upper Arlington Schools to define, measure, and communicate the educational quality and performance of the district?
- Productivity and Efficiency - What are the necessary and essential ways to improve school district operating efficiencies and effectiveness?
- Learning Experience - What must we do to ensure our curriculum, instruction, assessment, technology, and facilities engage all of our students in relevant and rich learning experiences that result in postsecondary success?
Each question was addressed by a small work team led by citizen volunteers and supported by district personnel and private sector consultants. The three documents (Phase 1 deliverable) created in this phase were considered briefing papers to inform the second phase of the work.
The second phase ran from August to December and involved the creation of a three-year strategic plan (Phase 2 deliverable) that was thoroughly vetted through community, staff and stakeholder engagement.
Both phases of the work were guided by a small, Strategic Coordination Group chaired by strategy consultant, Greg Browning. This group included the three work group citizen volunteers, a board representative, at-large community members, and district personnel. Battelle for Kids provided strategic consulting services and related communication support to help the district advance this initiative successfully.
The visual below shows both phases of the work that resulted in the following five key outcomes:
- Define success for UA though a new Quality Profile report in the context of regional, state, national, and global performance, and high-quality learning experiences for all students.
- Secure high levels of operational excellence and fiscal management through an ongoing Efficiency Initiative.
- Determine a district-wide framework to design and deliver the best learning experience for all students in all contexts.
- Produce a three-year strategic plan that focuses on a small set of powerful actions that advance quality, efficiency, and the efficacy of the learning experience for all students.
- Properly energize and guide community and key stakeholders through a structured process of engagement to support the implementation of the three-year strategic plan.