The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has been working on an update of their strategic plan for many months. On April 26, the community got the opportunity to comment on the draft strategic plan framework at an open house at Lincoln Middle School.
Superintendent Tim Cuneo stated the purpose of a strategic plan is to provide the district with a living document for the next five years that will provide “the District and Board with a tool to guide decision-making and alignment of priorities.” The draft framework “is a vision for student success in the new global economy.” He also noted that the plan would “honor the district’s existing strategic plan” and that the district would retain the same mission that was developed for the existing strategic plan. That mission was “extraordinary achievement for all students while simultaneously closing the achievement gap.”
Four goals were decided upon to be part of the draft framework as well as strategies and initiatives for them. A strategy of developing in each student the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that contributes to living a healthy, balanced life was chosen for the goal of promoting excellence. Another goal was ensuring district resources. The strategy for this goal is exercising effective oversight over the district’s resources and assets to support fiscal stability. The next strategy was recruit, develop, and retain outstanding enthusiastic staff, which reflects the values of SMMUSD and the needs and diversity of our students in order to support the goal of strengthening talent at every level. The final strategy was strengthening partnerships to support student success for the goal of collaborative partnerships.
The strategic planning team that developed the draft framework consisted of parent leaders, teachers, administrators, and a board liaison. Cuneo explained that next steps in the process would be to finalize the plan and then bring the plan to the board for their review and adoption. Once the plan has been adopted, district staff will develop activities to accomplish each initiative, implement schedules for the activities, and implement accompanying metrics for accountability.
After the Superintendent’s presentation everyone broke into small groups to give input on goals. The group this reporter sat in on decided the best way to promote excellence was to ensure there was equity for all students when it came to budgets, resources, and the curriculum. The group supported splitting resources equitably among all schools and students, having the district be transparent about the use of funds, especially those raised by the community as a way to support the goal of ensuring district resources. They also supported having a regular board agenda item on the strategic plan implementation for this goal.
The group’s suggestions for strengthening talent at every level were requiring all candidates who want to work for the district to have the same vision, having mentors for new hires, and consider a mentoring partnership with the business community for teachers and students. Lastly, for the goal of nurturing collaborative partnerships the group recommended that the school board take responsibility to ensure transparency and that there be action plans to effectively communicate progress.
The group also was asked for suggestions on how to keep the strategic plan a living document and the best ways to keep the parents and the community participating in the implementation of the plan. Members of the group suggested having effective communication about the progress of the plan, having regular columns in the local newspapers, having students give presentations at PTA meetings about the plan, and having a link to the school district website from the City Council website. Finally, they recommended having the district website organized according to the strategic plan and having regular updates on the website about each section of the plan.
Input from all the groups will now be analyzed and integrated into the strategic framework.