When it came time to revise Cordova School District’s strategic plan, Superintendent Alex Russin went looking for past examples. He found them stored in binders, stacked on a shelf — the way most strategic plans end up.
“Many of the components were the same, and you could tell that the process was the same,” Russin said. “If you plan the same way, it’s likely that your plan will ultimately end up the same as what you’ve always done.”
Russin decided to overhaul not just the process for putting together a plan, but for publishing it. The new plan, tentatively due out by the end of February, will take the form of an illustrated poster. Copies of the poster will be displayed at businesses and community agencies around Cordova.
“We want it to be visible,” Russin said. “We want it to be out there for people to ask questions about, to be curious about and to communicate with us about… The big goal in my mind is to engage the community and help the public understand and see — literally, see — where they might fit into the plan, rather than leafing through 40 pages of documents.”
The process of drawing up the strategic plan began in March 2018, when the district conducted surveys and held community forums for students, staff and Cordova at large. An administrative team sifted through the public’s responses, identifying common themes that could be translated into concrete plans for action. British Columbia-based artist Avril Orloff, who was contracted to illustrate the poster, also attended the first round of community forums.
The more sprawling the scheme, the less likely it will be implemented, Russin said. Therefore, the new plan has been whittled down to a handful of core principles with corresponding actions steps to be taken. A text version for administrators, as well as an interactive online version, will also be available.
Russin believes that this overhaul will help the new plan outlast the typical three-to-five-year life expectancy of a school strategic plan. The plan was last revised in 2014.
“We feel strongly that the foundation of the plan, its operational principles, will be principles that will stand the test of time,” Russin said. “This wasn’t derived from five people sitting in a room… This was truly driven from the community.”