New Lindbergh Superintendent Tony Lake checks in with fourth-graders at Long Elementary School on the first day of school this year.
By Gloria Lloyd
With a new superintendent in place and a new school year underway, Lindbergh Schools will also get its first-ever strategic plan this year.
The process for the strategic plan kicks off this week with the first meeting of the Strategic Plan Committee, which will develop the plan this year with an outside company, MGT Consulting Group. The Board of Education unanimously agreed last month to hire MGT for $49,725 to develop the plan, with the hope of having it finished by April.
“This will be our blueprint,” new Superintendent Tony Lake said. “Our conmunity and kids and parents and teachers are going to have a voice into the work that we want and the kinds of experiences and things that we want for our kids, and that’s what the strategic plan will be. And it’ll be a living, breathing document, not something we write up and say ‘this is so pretty’ and never refer to it again.”
The idea for the five-year strategic plan came from discussions Lake had with the board even before he arrived in Lindbergh.
At a board workshop in April, he explained a strategic plan as, “We’re purposeful about our work and not random and everybody knows what our work is … and every five years you bring the community into the conversation.”
Once the five-year plan is created with an outline of what the community wants from Lindbergh Schools through 2024, the thinking is that the district can be more strategic with its actions and streamline board decisions to meet those goals.
“We’re laying out a path for several years,” board President Karen Schuster said at a work session.
And since the district has never had one before, the board and Lake believed it was better to have an outside consultant guide the work than Lake or another member of Central Office, who wouldn’t have the time to devote to such a large project.
Board member Mike Tsichlis noted that any current administrator who was developing the plan might bring in “internal biases” and may not always look outside the box, whereas an outside company would bring in a fresh pair of eyes looking at district practices.
Board member Cathy Carlock Lorenz said she would prefer a complete outsider company, rather than any used by neighboring districts.
Instead of taking bids, the board accepted requests for qualifications, or RFQs, from interested companies. The company best-suited for the job was chosen, then a price was negotiated.
The Strategic Plan Committee will meet four times over the next several months and then hold an open public meeting to collect feedback from the community.
The district already has reams of data to hand the committee and the consulting company because it’s gathered so much feedback from parents and the public through online surveys during the superintendent search, redistricting and Lake’s Listening and Learning Tour.
With a more strategic mindset, Lake said eventually the district will be on a three-year cycle before any changes are implemented: Investigating, researching and then implementation. By then, “we know it’s the right thing to do,” he said.