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Strategic Planning - Creating a Roadmap

date 10/14/2019 author Sue Chase category Uncategorized

The Board of Directors of Fosston Public Schools desires to provide the best possible education for tomorrow’s workforce -- our students.  The board is also committed to being fiscally responsible. In order to do this, the board has determined that developing a strategic plan -- a plan that provides a road map for everyone in the school community -- is an important activity.  You might ask, “Why is strategic planning so important?”

Imagine, if you will, going on a two week vacation, without a plan.  You have a general idea of the time, but no specific destination. You might have a budget, but you haven’t set priorities, so your money is spent as costs come up, which means you may or may  not have enough for the full two weeks of vacation. You don’t know where you are going, so you don’t know when you’ve arrived at your destination. You didn’t get your car serviced before you went, so you might run into emergencies along the way which eat into your budget.  And because you haven’t prepared, you don’t know the rules of the places you might visit, so you might end up in trouble. For some, a vacation without a plan is fun; for others, it’s a nightmare. But imagine spending a whole year or longer in this state.  

The dangers of operating without a plan are multitude - whether you are taking a vacation, or operating a business -- and especially so for a larger organization.  Decisions are made out of necessity. People end up reacting to situations, rather than preventing things. Budgets become broken. Because staff don’t have a common direction, tensions can rise and communication diminishes.  Eventually, there is a state of constant panic and chaos. However, all of this can be avoided if an organization develops a strong plan of action.

Strategic planning is a process that brings stakeholders together to discuss hopes and dreams, values, what’s working, and what’s not.  From there, SMART goals are set, with specific check-points and deadlines for completion. After the plan is developed and approved by the board, it’s up to district staff, the board and the community to make sure the plan is implemented.  As decisions are made, the overarching question to answer is “How will this decision help move us forward with our plan?” Resources can be allocated to the priorities in the plan. All in all, a good strategic plan provides direction for all involved, and keeps an organization moving forward systematically, for the long term.

Just like when we plan for vacations, strategic planning requires frequent check-ins toward progress.  A good plan will include specific dates for those check-ins, and enough flexibility to address shortfalls or changes along the way.  So, how do we begin developing the plan?

To start the process we are asking for your opinion, and few moments of your time.  We have several on-line surveys available at our website. Go to: https://www.fosston.k12.mn.us and look along the left side under “Quick Links”.  Click on the link most applicable to you and share your responses.  Please do one survey, even if you  fit various descriptions.  The links will be open until mid-November.  We will also have listening session meetings coming up in the various communities that comprise ISD 601. Watch for dates.  We at ISD 601 are excited to engage in this process, and hope that you -- our community -- join us.


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