Board Works on a ‘Vision of the Future’ for District 36
Process and development of strategic planning is among top issues during session on Winnetka schools.
District 36 kicked off its Strategic Planning Process, a planning project intended to last several months, to usher in a new phase of learning that will be implemented and monitored for the next several years.*
Board members convened for a special meeting Tuesday at the Carleton Washburne Resource Center where they focused on what has been identified as one the district’s biggest priorities – “a vision of the future of the district,” said superintendent Thomas Hagerman.
Bringing Goals to Reality
The newly-approved Winnetka Public Schools’ district goals states that strategic planning seeks to develop a comprehensive process that ensures long-term success of its high quality instruction in programs and service.
The overall objective is to gather feedback via focus groups, surveys and other means of data collection from teachers, parents and students in order to craft vision and mission statements that will guide the district for the next three to five years. The research and planning is set to wrap up in September 2012, at which time the implementation will start.
One of the main concerns of this process was the method of gathering community responses. A discussion regarding an open-ended vs. controlled approach for collecting data ensued and the board discussed the implications of delineating specific areas for reflection, such as school finance or curriculum instruction and assessment, as a way of guiding group discussions within "controlled" parameters.
Board President Dana Crumley worried that a completely open-ended approach would be unpredictable and that discussion could, as she and other board members had seen in past public and online forums, veer way off track.
“We’re trying to get constructive criticism, not provide therapy,” said Crumley. “The number one thing is to get as many people involved and contributing as we can.”
Other informational items at the special meeting included the review of a new funding proposal for the Elementary Strings Program (also known as “Suzuki Strings”). The program allows students K-4 to study the violin, viola or cello, which can prepare them for the Orchestra program in grades 5-8. Total funding for the initiative comes from families who pay $950 in fees; however, the administration is recommending that the board incurs the costs.
“Because it’s within our school day and taught by our certified staff members, we feel that it’s in our best interest to incur the cost instead of having it be fee-based to cover the teacher’s salary,” said Trisha Kocanda, assistant superintendent.
The next regular board meeting will be held at the Carleton Washburne Resource Center at 7:15 p.m. A 5 p.m. special meeting will precede regular assembly.
* Nov. 18 Clarification: The planning process lasts several months, while the implementation will last several years. The planning itself does not last several years.