When Is a School’s Strategic Plan Not Good Enough?

Presenting his credentials as a strategic plan consultant “for about three or four major global companies,” newly elected Huntley School District 158 board member Jim Carlin did not have kind words to say about the district’s strategic plan.

“The words missing here are ‘buy-in’ and ‘commitment.'”

Carlin related what happened when he visited a high school team leaders’ meeting:

“I walked into a meeting with team leaders at the high school and I said here’s my book. Here’s the strategic plan and they said,

‘We don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ve got goals for No Child Left Behind. We’ve got local goals’ (which Carlin suggested might contain the district’s strategic goals).

“But there was not evidence of top-down, bottom-up commitment, not to mention that they told me we couldn’t measure them.

Other board members got a bit defensive.

“We did that at our meeting last summer,” Kim Sjaka said.

“This has been done within the last year, a strategic plan and it’s been updated,” Tony Quagliano pointed out.

“You’ve gotten updates from the administration,” Carlin replied.

“We had originally planned a complete day, a School Improvement Day, when we were going to go over it piece by piece. However, as you know, we lost two School Improvement Days. Instead we did online training,” Assistant Superintendent Terry Awrey explained.

He added that a test was on the internet which teachers had been asked to take. Over one-third have successfully completed it.

“You don’t just develop a plan and put it out thee and say, ‘Go take a test.’ That’s not the way you get commitment on it,” Carlin state.

Referring back to his meeting with high school teachers, Carlin reiterated, “They told me they had never seen it before.”

“Did you tell them it was online?” board member Larry Snow inquired.

A short discussion ensured about whether ACT goals not being online. Carlin insisted ACT scores were not addressed online, while holdover board members thought they were. As nearly as I could ascertain, Sjaka said that they were not included in district goals until 2010.

Defending the strategic goal-setting process, Snow said, “I thought in open session we did a pretty decent job of forging this whole thing. It was a very cordial thing.”

He pointed out, “Within the last two months, we went over every strategic plan goal. I mean we just did this.”

“You don’t teach a class, do you?” Carlin asked.

This discussion took place at the May 17th school board meeting.

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The photograph on top is of Jim Carlin. Next is Kim Sjaka and Tony Quagliano. Beneath on the left is Carlin again. Down a bit to the right is Larry Snow. All are members of the Huntley School Board.

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