Op-Ed: Stakeholder engagement is key to CSD planning

Join conversation March 13 on school district’s future

For the last year-and-a-half, Cordova School District has engaged in various stages of strategic planning, from internal review of past plans and study of trends and practices that influence school systems to the recent implementation of a community-wide survey seeking input from stakeholders.  As I move into the spring of my third year as superintendent in Cordova, I grow more eager to engage the community in planning and partnering for our school district’s future.

Strategic planning in organizational settings has evolved over time.  The word strategy comes from the ancient Greek, strathgia, meaning “the art of generalship, of devising and carrying out a military campaign.”  The English use of the term strategy “was transferred from its military origins to the business world…at a time when a military career was considered a good qualification for a manager” (www.economist.com/node/13311148 ).  However, unlike the traditional need for military and corporate-world secrecy in planning where only top advisors engage, CSD is working toward a community-based approach to strategic planning in order to develop short- and long-term goals for our school system.  Our overall goal is to involve as many community members as possible, including those representing local organizations, individual members of the community, and district staff, parents, and students in creating more than just a document, but rather an engaging, dynamic, visual map to the future success of our students.

Historically, the district’s strategic plans have been created in five-year intervals, but in today’s world, it is impossible to know everything about what the next five years may bring. With changing local, national, and global landscapes, emerging information and technologies, shifting political environments, and an unpredictable economy, some areas we thought we needed to focus on, might not seem important, or possible, while other matters we did not anticipate might become critical to our operations.  Therefore, our emphasis will be on creating a flexible and adaptable plan which can adjust to the changing needs of our students. When completed, the plan will communicate the district’s direction to the entire community. It will help provide context for community participation and integration into the plan, and, it will define organizational goals and objectives against which it can measure its progress.

A strategic plan is our chart, our directional course on the waterways our students will journey.  Your guidance and navigation in this process is key. Please join the district on March 13 at Mt. Eccles Elementary School in the first of a series of community conversations about planning for the future. Sessions include students grades 7-12 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; district staff from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and community members from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Look for additional announcements on the schools’ Facebook pages for upcoming opportunities or stop by the district office for more details.

Alex Russin is the Superintendent of Schools for the Cordova School District and has been a community resident for three years.