Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Charter school strategic planning: why it makes sense
A charter school is about education. It makes sense for a charter school to have an education plan. Why should a charter school take the time to develop a strategic plan?
Let's face it. One of the reasons that few charter schools develop complete strategic plans is that they take time. Time is one thing that charter school leaders do not have an abundance of. However, a strategic plan can benefit all constituents of a charter school.
The strategic plan integrates that education plan with the financial plan, facilities plan, marketing plan and human resources plan. In other words, it gives direction to the school so that it both knows where it is going and can measure its success. It can also be used to raise warning signs along the way.
Because the strategic plan lays out measurable objectives in all aspects of the school, the school's leaders can tell when they are off track. If test scores are high and meeting goals, but the school is not developing staff the way they would like or not putting away adequate reserves for a rainy day, then the school may be in danger, even though things are going well today.
A strategic plan doesn't have to be perfect and doesn't have to involve only the work of the school leader. Others at the school, such as a business manager or lead teachers, should be involved.
It's more important for a charter school to have a strategic plan that even for a large school district. A large school district can often survive without a strategic plan because it doesn't have to compete for students or convince anyone to use its services. Planning is, in some ways, easier than for a charter school. A charter school needs to know if it is meeting the needs of the community in ways that go beyond test scores or other measures of success. It has to create its own survival. The strategic plan is one tool that schools can use to direct the course of the school toward meeting those community needs.
For help in creating a strategic plan, contact me.
Coming next: What's in a school's strategic plan?