Steamboat Springs On a night the Steamboat Springs School Board voted on its outlined goals, it also hosted the Cambrian Group's John Messelt to discuss strategic planning and how it could affect the district.
Messelt and Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks worked together when Meeks was leading his former district, Farmington Schools in Minnesota.
The Cambrian Group is a national educational strategic planning organization that Messelt said often works with public, high-performing districts like Steamboat.
“The board has talked about strategic planning and anchors and a process, and what John was brought in to do … was do an overview of what it is,” Meeks said.
At Monday night’s regular School Board meeting, the board — with Messelt’s presentation in mind — unanimously approved its three strategic anchors, the culmination of a months-long discussion.
The first anchor states that the board will “develop a culture in which all students have the resources and skills to take responsibility for realizing their individual potential." The second states that the board will “develop an environment that attracts and retains the most qualified staff." And the third anchor states it will “become recognized for academic excellence on a state, national and global level.”
Meeks said his experience with strategic planning in Minnesota showed it helps districts, communities and school boards effectively multitask. He also highlighted strategic planning’s ability to create continuity.
“I’ve had eight board changes and 12 board members, and when people come and go, a strategic plan gives the district a focus on what is important to the community," he said.
The superintendent said that if the board chooses to implement strategic planning in the near future, an external facilitator, likely Messelt, would come in and help guide the district along.
Messelt said during his presentation that the process takes about nine or 10 months throughout the year to begin and implement a strategic plan. He outlined some goals of educational strategic planning such as striving for missions beyond a "maintained level of performance," and he stressed the need for abandonment of plans that can hurt the process in certain cases.
"It's the hardest thing for educators to do, it seems, is to abandon those things you're already on," Messelt said.
In the process, when district strategies are identified, Meeks said at Monday’s meeting, action teams are put into place. Community action committees also are called upon in strategic planning, Messelt and Meeks said.
“Right now, it’s more of an idea,” Meeks said before Monday’s meeting. “The board and administrative group have talked about it. If we do make that decision, we’ll be outlining the next steps and hopefully get more people involved. It takes a lot of community involvement.”
It also comes with a price. Meeks estimated that because implementing strategic planning is a process and “not a one-shot deal,” it could cost about $25,000 or $30,000, depending on the number of services.
Messelt said that strategic planning shouldn’t be rejected on cost alone.
“You’d be surprised the amount of things that come out of a strategic plan that really have no cost,” Messelt said.
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll