What skills and knowledge should a Chagrin Falls High School class of 2023 graduate have? District administrators and stakeholders will attempt to answer that and other questions as part of its strategic planning process throughout the 2019-20 school year.

Superintendent Robert Hunt gave the Board of Education a broad outline of what the district’s strategic plan will entail over the next year at its regular meeting June 19. He said coming off of the last year of a previous five-year plan, the district is ready to move forward on a three-year plan starting in 2020 called Destination 2023.

“I intentionally want this to look differently than it’s looked compared to the past three strategic plans in our district,” he said. “It’s going to take all of next year to plan and then project out three years instead of the traditional five. And I think just with the pace and change of the world, you’re seeing a lot of organizations moving toward this more incremental planning rather than a five year strategic plan so that’s the goal that we’ll undertake this year.”

Mr. Hunt said the first phase of the work has already begun, with The Impact Group of Hudson launching and analyzing a survey of district staff and community members. Gathering more information from stakeholders and reviewing data from a recent instructional audit will also come into play, he said.

“We’re very pleased with what we heard from both groups, not only because there’s a lot of positive things to celebrate, but there’s some areas that identified themselves as an opportunity to improve and work on,” Mr. Hunt said of the initial survey results.

Phase two, expected to be completed between October and December of this year, involves developing a foundation for the plan by looking at demographics, trends, barriers and needed supports, Mr. Hunt said. A major part of this step will be to flesh out a profile of what a graduate from Chagrin Falls High looks like, ensuring that students are kept as the focus of the process.

“So what you’ll see in the fall is a conversation with staff and the community in terms of what is the outcome that we want from a student graduating from Chagrin Falls High School. When that is defined, then we put that at the center of our planning,” Mr. Hunt said. “A lot of it (the profile) is skill based, the thought is the content that kind of enhances the skills, but I love that it’s putting students at the center and front end of this and then planning from there.”

The third phase in January and February of 2020 will involve the development of core competencies, Mr. Hunt said, with consideration of what action steps will be the most valuable and feasible and aligned in the timeframe of three years. While previous strategic plans had action teams independently create a list of action steps for respective areas, this time around Mr. Hunt said he envisions a more cohesive, focused and realistic plan districtwide with more staff participation.

“We talked a lot administratively of reports and getting our staff involved and engaged and confirming and affirming this work so we don’t have a plan that we roll out a year from now and everybody says, ‘Where did this come from?’” he said. “I think at the last strategic plan, those that were involved were very involved and those that weren’t involved were very uninvolved and we want to solve that problem.”

Once the graduate profile and core competencies are developed, phase four in March and April 2020 will involve focus groups of district staff, parents, students and other stakeholders to give input and feedback before the strategic plan’s core competencies and action steps are finalized, Mr. Hunt said.

“One of the pieces I think we’ve done a good job of as a district is really holding ourselves accountable to completing the plan and that’s that whole manage performance piece,” Mr. Hunt said. “So that’s at a very high level what the work will look like in some of the phases and then as we go into next year I would say that you’ll kind of see the specifics within the whole that I’ll articulate.”

Mr. Hunt noted that while the district has already engaged with The Impact Group for the survey, he anticipates a formal contract with the firm for collaboration and facilitation of the work over the next school year.

In other business, Gilbane Building Company Project Manager Keri Ash told the board the Intermediate School project is in the home stretch, with sidewalks being poured, exterior doors being installed and inspections planned to begin July 10.

“I think we have a good story at the end of the day,” she said. “I think you should be proud. It’s beautiful.”

The board approved $85,293 worth of change orders for the project, and Ms. Ash estimated about $123,000 in potential change orders coming as the project wraps up. Even with those expenses, board President Kathryn Garvey said, the board anticipates the project will still come in under budget.

Tim Tedeschi covers the Solon and West Geauga Board of Education, as well as statewide education issues, sports and features. He is a lifelong diehard Cleveland Indians fan and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University.

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