Saline Area Schools will engage the community in a strategic planning process the district hopes will guide development over the next seven years.
At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Scot Graden said the process will begin following the Sept. 25 board meeting when the district begins soliciting people to take part in the process. The resulting document from the strategic planning process could shape decision making on a range of issues, from tax increases for infrastructure improvements to policies on class sizes and online learning.
“The outcome I am looking for is to update, clarify and define each of our five goal areas existing in our framework. But also to prioritize academic, organizational and financial goals for next year,” Graden said.
Graden hopes to have the process complete by March so it can be used for the district’s budget process.
Board President Lisa Slawson asked if one of the outcomes might be a bond proposal to bring before voters.
“We have buses that need to be replaced. We have technology that needs to be replaced. We have refrigerators and freezers that need to be replaced. We need to make the decision whether to scrap this building (Liberty School) or fix it,” Slawson said.
Graden said the process will determine what the next steps need to be.
“That being said, I think you’ve articulated areas of concern. But I don’t want this to be a process that is about a bond issue. Ultimately, this is a really broad approach,” Graden said.
Graden said process will make use of the recent enrollment study and soon-to-be-completed facilities study and other data.
Trustee Todd Carter suggested the planning document’s time frame be expanded from five to seven years. Trustee David Holden agreed, noting the seven-year time frame dovetails with a recent enrollment study projecting the loss of 500 students over the same time.
Trustee David Zimmer said it was important the district stick to the process once it begins and that the public be educated about the process.
The last full-blown strategic planning process in the district was Project 2000, which led to the construction of the new high school and Harvest Elementary School. There have been other planning committees since then, Graden said.
Graden said the district is looking for people who can commit to the process.
“It is a commitment of time. It’s not just about naming people to a committee,” Graden said.
Following the November election, the process will officially kick off with a large meeting. Graden expects at least two meetings before the holidays and another early in the new year.
Graden said a facilitator from outside the district will be employed to lead the process.
Carter said he’d like to see the process result in the creation of community advisory committees that could be used to inform decision making in upcoming years.