Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Strategic Plan update

Here is the latest news on the Strategic Plan.

We have a project plan from McKinsey and a teacher survey, conducted by McKinsey. Both are posted on the District's Strategic Plan page.

Here's the short version of the teacher survey results:
Instructional staff would like to see the district emphasize these initiatives:
* Provide adequate facilities
* Provide on-site professional development
* Provide useful student achievement data to help shape instructional practices
* Effectively measure central office performance
* Provide uniform instruction materials

From the timeline for the process, the next step will be Framework construction. During this four week phase from February to March, the McKinsey folks will "clarify feasibility and resource requirements of 'highest priority' initiatives, review resource availability (e.g., funds, capacity) and review 'highest priority' initiatives with internal and external stakeholders" This phase will conclude on March 7 when they present the proposed initiatives and priorities to the school board. That means that they only have this week and next to complete the conversations with external stakeholders before they report out. External stakeholders are defined as "families, community organizations and leaders, and other non-SPS staff". So, has anyone reading this been invited to participate in this process as an external stakeholder? Not me.

They have a menu of about 30 high priority inititives to review to find the "highest priority" ones. None of their initiatives have to do with strengthening relationships with stakeholders and partners. That work has already been contracted to Pyramid Communications, so McKinsey doesn't have much to say about it. I hope McKinsey does get involved, however, because there appears to be a significant disconnect in this area. All of the data they have collected suggests two primary problems: 1) serious lack of engagement, feedback, and customer service and 2) poor penetration in hard to reach communities. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, none of their initiatives address the lack of engagement or new methods of reaching people they haven't historically been able to reach. Nearly all of the District's communication efforts are focused on public relations and things like press releases. It's like they aren't listening even to themselves.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, didn't post my reference to stakeholders on page 20 of Strat. Plan Framework...see that for info, they DID interview 78 stakeholders already, and got their feedback.

Also, see page 24, where it indicates that SPS will engage stakeholders to gain feedback and develop plan.

Anonymous said...

The Strategic Plan Framework Devleopment: Discussion of Potential Initiatives document is chock full of stuff. Check it out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did receive a lovely letter from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson about this and yes, I'd be happy to come to whatever community engagement that is offered.

Anonymous said...

That's excellent, Melissa. You, Charlie, some others on this blog could provide Dr. G-J some excellent feedback. You and Charlie, particularly, know more about the district and have a saner vision of it then just about anyone I know. Your input would be invaluable.


Charlie Mas said...

A couple of the potential initiatives intrigue me.

Here's one:
A2 Develop effective service delivery models for special education, ELL, at-risk, and advanced learners. This initiative is described as based on audit findings. There were audits of special education, safety net, and APP, but I haven't seen any audit of ELL or other advanced learning programs (such as Spectrum, ALO, AP or IB). I would be very concerned if the District made any radical changes to these service delivery models without a lot of collaboration, but there is no reference to collaboration in the sub-initiative for this as there is in a number of other sub-initiatives.

A3 Create school performance model for SPS schools. The enigmatic word "accountability" appears here. What does this mean? Does it mean that if a school's students don't pass the WASL in sufficient numbers that the District will somehow intervene? Will this be the end of the AAA?

A6 Create aligned K-12 system of international schools within SPS. That's interesting. I had no idea that international schools played such a prominent role in improving learning and teaching for all students. Where is the initiative for creating aligned K-12 system of alternative schools within SPS. Audits have made it clear that the District does not adequately support alternative schools; why don't they get similar billing among the potential initiatives?

A7 Continue Southeast Education and Flight Schools Initiatives. Why? Have they demonstrated effectiveness?

C2 Add leadership capacity to ensure success of large district wide initiatives. Two interesting bits here: First, the recognition that the District announces efforts but doesn't put anything behind them. Second, what is "partnership evaluation"?

C9 Reduce principal administrative burden. I don't know why they don't just hire a bunch of school administrators - people who are actually professional managers rather than educators - to do the administrative work at a number of schools and free the principals to be instructional leaders in their buildings.

C11 Improve facility maintenance. This includes intestigating solutions to maintenance funding gaps. How about re-allocating BEX III money from Denny and putting Denny on BEX IV?

The whole performance management slide is done in a different, vaguer style. What's up with that?

Stakeholder analysis was also done in a different style, without the clear set of potential initiatives. Of course it says on the slide that Pyramid Communications will develop a community engagement plan and detailed recommendations.

Charlie Mas said...

So who is Pyramid Communications, what are they getting paid, and what job are they supposed to do?

Given that they are a communications company working on informing the public about SPS, what does it say about the quality of their work that I don't know these things?

Melissa Westbrook said...

This from the Denny/Sealth item on the Agenda:

The Building Excellence Program Phase III Construction Management Team, DKA, has contracted with Regina Glenn of Pacific Communications Consultants (PCC) to provide community outreach services, newsletters web site postings, meeting announcements and distribution and community meeting facilitation.
PCC will provide services for community meetings and multi-media updates on the progress of the Denny/Sealth project.

So yet another consultant firm. Why can't we do any of this ourselves and what direction is the district giving them in doing community engagement?

Charlie Mas said...

You will note that what they call community engagement is, in fact, public relations. All of the communications is one-way: the district talking to the public. There is no real engagement. There is no effort by the district to listen to the public. That is not in their plan - not now, not ever.

And they wonder why people say that they don't have the opportunity to offer feedback?

dan dempsey said...

Charlie said:

So who is Pyramid Communications, what are they getting paid, and what job are they supposed to do?

At this point in a process they are usually being paid to shepherd the sheep in the direction their employer would like them headed.

This was a much easier job before Mas, Westbrook, and the internet blogs showed up.

Now the Board looks like they are unconcerned with public input. They did not look nearly so bad before the blogs. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Public Communication consultants to herd those sheep.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Pyramid Communications is local, their clients have included the Alliance for Education, Lakeside School, Casa Latina, TAF. One of their staff is Deborah Bach who I used to know from her work at the PI as an education reporter.