Board begins strategic planning

HOPE – The Hope Public School District Board has begun a process designed to take the district from its “current reality” to the vision which the board seeks to sustain for its students, faculty, parents and patrons.

“It’s an ongoing, never ending process,” Superintendent Bobby Hart said. “We’d like to revisit every six months where we are on our goals; but, we also try every two years to establish new goals and make sure we are still focused on what we want to achieve.”

Hart said the board typically addresses strategic planning during the summer months, but with the election of a new board member and reorganization of the board after the retirement of longtime board president Joe Short, that was delayed this year.

“All of the other board members had asked that we postpone that until our new board member was on board and give him a chance to participate in the process,” he said.

The working session conducted Oct. 24 was facilitated by Blaine Alexander, consultant from the Arkansas Leadership Academy in Fayetteville.

Alexander took the board from a broad perspective of defining strategic planning through finding effective strategies in an orderly planning process that reflects purpose.

“Everything filters through your core beliefs,” he told the board. “These are the things that you are not going to be talked out of by anyone.”

Alexander challenged the board members to take those ideas and find a common vision of destination the district as a whole should achieve.

“This is your model school,” he said.

A board consensus developed around eight key factors, including student achievement, discipline, facilities, communication, finance, parental involvement, community involvement, and personnel.

“I can’t speak for the board, but those eight items that were listed are the focus areas that they want to look at specifically,” Hart said. “If you go more than that, their time and attention is spread so far that fidelity to the process is hard to achieve.”

He said developing a vision in each of the eight areas is ambitious, despite a certain level of overlap.

Hart said the continuing work of the board will involve creating visions of each of those points upon which district administration and educators can act.

“It’s our challenge now as administrators to come up with a plan of how we are going to accomplish that, and, for them to monitor the work once they have established a vision and goals,” he said.

Hart said he anticipates frequent reporting to the board from that perspective as the process continues.

“I wasn’t surprised to see anything listed there; and, most of those eight things are tied into our previous goals,” he said. “And, all of those things are related to what schools should do in any case, and they all lead to student achievement.”

Hart said he anticipates making an initial report to the board at its next regular meeting on Nov. 28.

“I was very proud of the way the board worked together, and Mr. Alexander, he was very pleased with how cordially they worked together,” Hart said.