Mehlville slated to embark on strategic-plan process

“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

The Mehlville School District is poised to embark on a strategic-plan process under the leadership of new Superintendent Norm Ridder.

When the Board of Education meets Thursday — Aug. 21 — it is scheduled to consider three bidders who submitted responses to the district’s request for proposals to serve as a consultant for the strategic plan. The request sought consultants who are experienced in human-centered design, a design process based on how a person actually uses something and what a person actually wants.

The bids will be opened when the board meets at 7 p.m. in the Oakville Elementary School gymnasium, 2911 Yaeger Road.

Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen the district conduct many different types of community-engagement programs to formulate strategic plans. Some have been more successful than others, with the process that was utilized in early 2000 that led to the passage of Proposition P in November 2000 being the most successful.

Without Proposition P, the district would not have been able to fund three new school buildings — including a new middle school — and major reconstruction projects and technology for the district’s 10 elementary schools, three other middle schools and two high schools.

Though Proposition P resulted in some financial missteps and transparency issues, the people who created those problems have not worked for the district for many, many years.

Another successful community-engagement program was the first COMPASS — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools — effort that led to the passage of Proposition T in November 2008. Proposition T transferred 31 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from the district’s debt-service fund to the operating fund, stabilizing the district’s finances.

Unsuccessful community-engagement efforts resulted in the February 2006 defeat of Proposition A, a 97-cent tax-rate increase, and the November 2010 defeat of Proposition C, an 88-cent tax-rate increase. Despite proponents’ claims, those two measures never stood a chance.

The type of strategic-plan process proposed by Dr. Ridder, an educator with more than 40 years of experience, has not yet been used in Mehlville. But we have confidence in Dr. Ridder, who most recently led Springfield Public Schools, where he utilized the human-centered-design process with great success.