The SC met this evening to review the development and timeline of the strategic plan for our schools. The 4 hour meeting started with a presentation of the best practices of goal setting, as well as clarification of what the roles & responsibilities are of a school committee and the Superintendent by MASC representative Dorothy Presser. I think this was a fantastic idea because anyone who has not taken this course over the last 3 years could use a refresher in order to be the most effective SC member they can be. I took it when I was a candidate for SC in May 2015 and found it to be very informative.
Following the MASC presentation was the summary of the Strategic Development timeline that was from 2014-2015 presented by the Superintendent, Dr. Kristan Rodriguez. There were over 75 slides that were reviewed rather quickly because the SC members did get a copy of the presentation to review prior to the meeting. I asked if copies could be available in the future for taxpayers since it is a public meeting. I was told by the Superintendent that I could get a copy at the meeting but I could not get a copy of the presentation before the meeting. I guess only the SC members can get a copy so that they can review it before the meeting; although it makes it very difficult to follow along and understand what is being discussed without having the ability to review information like the SC does. I’ll have to check into if that falls under opening meeting law requirements since the meeting & literature being discusses is not being held in executive session? Perhaps they should be required to post a copy of the presentation on the agenda… transparency can do wonders no?
So back to the Strategic Development timeline presentation. It provided a clear view of all the work that was done, we are talking hundreds of hours. But the question is, does the SC collectively feel that the Entry Findings are inclusive of the community input or is there a large number of taxpayers that have not had the opportunity to participate. There were brain storming sessions, a strategic plan committee, parent surveys, teachers input and other various ways that data was collected in effort to gather information to form a community vision for our schools. This vision was then transformed into a strategic plan to fulfill this vision. The concern that the majority of SC members have – was that enough? Did taxpayers without children have proper input? If they did, what method were they given to participate? The school committee needs to be sure because if a large portion of taxpayers don’t share the community vision then it could be a big problem when it is time to go to town meeting and vote on the school budget.
If you are a Groton or Dunstable taxpayer and would like to participate in my independent anonymous survey about the development of the strategic plan you can click on this link: G-D Strategic Plan Survey
Peter Cronin & Jennifer McKenzie clearly stated that they feel that they need to go back to the entry findings; they feel that there are a large number of people who may have been left out of the vetting process and it is important that be done first. Jeff Kubick, Stephanie Cronin & Alison Manugian were slightly more objective however still acknowledged their concerns that would result in going back to the entry findings as well. Leslie Lathrop had a definite interest in reviewing how some of the curriculum came into play which again will bring you back to the entry findings. Jon Sjoberg was the only SC member that did not feel like he needed to go back to the entry findings as he was comfortable with the prior school committees efforts and does feel the entry findings were fully vested. He does however feel that additional review in the plan is needed. My take – there is a large portion of taxpayers that do not have children that still need to be included in the community vision for our schools. It is the SC job to find a way to engage all demographics within the community and to increase transparency and communication.
The Superintendent did propose that a vetting committee be formed to review and continue vetting as needed so that a draft of the strategic plan could be presented to the community in which further input could be received and the plan could be tweaked where needed like most plans are. The school committee felt that as elected officials they should have first go at it.
The school committee will meet on August 29, 2015 at 6:30pm – 9:30pm for another public workshop at Prescott, first floor to begin a detailed view of the narrative and some data of the entry findings. I commend the school committee for not taking the easy way out with a rubber stamp. They chose to spend many many, did I say many hours in reviewing the plan development and the strategic plan!
This is time well spent… upon conclusion our SC should be able to stand strong, communicate with the community, advocate for our children and implement a strategic plan that will fulfill our community vision.