• What is Strategic Planning?
    Strategic planning is a basic function for any organization. Successful organizations routinely chart a long-term course, take action, monitor progress and modify plans over time as conditions and assumptions change. Strategic planning is a process through which individuals knowledgeable about and intimately involved with an organization conduct an analysis of the organization's strengths, weaknesses, position within the external environment and opportunities for improvement in order to develop a long-range plan for continual improvement. It is about making purposeful, strategic decisions to address priorities and achieve our mission and vision. Without purposeful strategic decisions, the best predictor of next year’s allocation of resources will be this year’s allocation of resources as opposed to a strategic plan that places the District on a trajectory to realize our mission and vision. (Schneck 2013)

    The School District of Clayton’s strategic planning process has one primary premise that provides the context for all of its activities:

    Organizational Excellence

    Our students are the core of this District’s Organizational Excellence. We must provide them with the best possible education so they are equipped to do what they want to do and be who they want to be. Our new vision statement calls for the District to “develop leaders who shape the world through independence, creativity and critical thinking.” We have solidified our vision. The strategic plan will make that vision a reality.

    The Strategic Planning Process
    The District used the following key steps in its process to develop a new strategic plan.
    1. An Environmental Scan gathers a large amount of background information that will influence the development of future objectives. It is designed to allow those participating in the planning process to take stock of current conditions and future aspirations within all major areas of the District. It helps answer the questions: Where are we now? What could we do over time?

    2. The Environmental Analysis is a systematic evaluation of the District’s internal/external environment based on the information collected in the Environmental Scan. It is designed to put problems and concerns in perspective by identifying key issues and facilitating a strategic approach to addressing those issues. A SWOT analysis is used in this step to begin to identify priorities by focusing on:
      1. Strengths (assets to build on)
      2. Weaknesses (areas for improvement)
      3. Opportunities (may promote growth)
      4. Threats (may inhibit growth/objective attainment)

    3. Strategic Themes are broad, overarching key areas of focus that have been identified as priorities to achieve our mission and vision. The Environmental (SWOT) Analysis identified the “so what” of the District’s current situation; the Strategic Themes are the “now what” because they are broad in scope and set the strategic directions for moving forward. They provide the trajectory to achieve the District’s mission and vision. Strategic Themes are sometimes referred to as “pillars of excellence.”

    4. Indicators are the targets and measures identified for each strategic theme and are designed to focus the work in that area and allow the District to monitor its forward progress as objectives are achieved. Indicators have a starting point (benchmark) and a stretch point (target).

    5. Initiatives are developed once priorities have been established and Strategic Themes have been identified and supported by multiple objectives and performance indicators. Initiatives are supported by building and District goals.