March 05, 2014 - First in a series on Clarkston schools' new five year strategic plan.
A Strategic Plan up for approval next week would point the way to 2020 for Clarkston schools.
"The plan puts on paper what the board agrees on, what we're doing, where we are going, and how we achieve it," said board Treasurer Joan Patterson. "What it allows us to do is build a structure to make better decisions, without politics and personalities, leaving just the facts."
Clarkston Community Schools' Strategic Plan includes six Focus Areas for 2014-2019.
Student Performance includes improved student achievement in local, state, and national assessments, and study of instructional initiatives such as Magnet School, Middle College, Year Round School, and others;
Technology, developing a long-term, rolling Network and Wireless Infrastructure Plan;
Operations, short and long term plans for buildings, transportation, and other school programs, explore collaboration with neighboring districts and local government to identify areas of duplication and potential cost savings, and revenue opportunities;
Finance, long term financial plan, review reserve fund balance policy, monitor and manage future debt, review athletics, community education, facilities, and shared time partnerships for revenue opportunities;
Human Resources, periodic review and adjustment of teacher evaluations and develop a long term financial forecast for school employees; and
Communication, engage businesses and community as volunteers and participants in school events and programs, and a Board of Education environment that values transparency and communication.
"The plan focuses the board – there are a lot of good programs out there, but only so much money," Patterson said. "When you're sitting on the board and you vote to approve something, what are you not approving? What else should you be considering?"
As the board discusses a proposal for new technology or curriculum, they can pull out the plan and see if it fits, she said.
"It's a tool to enable the board to make better, consistent decisions with no surprises," the treasurer said. "I'm proud we have this document."
The plan will also be helpful when meeting with legislators, she said.
"We can pull out the plan and show them how we are planning to get to our goals," she said.
The plan is set for a vote March 10. Once approved, it will be an umbrella under which building improvement and other plans will fall.
"Everything will come from there – does it fit the strategic plan? When looking at plans to approve, we'll pull it out and see where it fits," she said.
Next week, a focus on the Student Performance part of the plan.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.