Following Saturday's daylong strategic planning session, Schools Superintendent Mark Porter is preparing for the next stage in the progression: bringing the findings from a half-dozen working groups back to his executive team to be refined by the end of the week.
From there, the super will form six action teams, one per strategic objective identified by the working groups. The teams will then lay out the specific steps that need to take place over the next 12 to 18 months to achieve those objectives.
Prior to Saturday's session, an opening round was conducted April 22 at Coral Shores High School, where Porter laid out the format to be followed, and introduced the members of the strategic planning teams to one another.
The process is "not going to answer all our questions," Porter said during his opening remarks. "But it will give us a tool to address some of the problems we face. You've got to respect people giving up their Saturday for the process. We welcome those who are interested in the process."
There were at least two no-shows; people who had applied for and been accepted to the team but couldn't make Tuesday's session. Porter said that he'd be talking to them later, to brief them on what they'd missed.
The group members sat in small groups at six tables to discuss the strategy the district will follow in the years ahead. Each table had an assigned "recorder."
All five School Board members were in attendance and participating in the exercise, however it wasn't clear what role, if any, the findings from the seven strategic engagement sessions Porter held throughout the Keys will play in this ongoing process.
The reporters from each table discussed some of the agreements they've reached as regards "opportunities and threats" to the district. Everyone at one table seemed to agree that an improving economy will be a good thing for budgets, while an "improved reputation of the district" will be good for attracting new teachers.
Following the meeting, School Board member John Dick, of District 4, did a tally and came up with the following statistics on the makeup of the group: Besides the board members, there were seven community members, four parents and 21 district employees.
Dick, who has made no secret of his disdain for workshops of this sort, said "This is not a snapshot of the community ... . It's top-heavy with district employees, who are going to come up with the consensus that the community wants to raise taxes. It doesn't represent the community or its views."
Now that this part of the Strategic Planning Process is complete, the superintendent and his executive team will refine the findings by the end of this week.
From there, six strategic objectives will be identified, and handed off to six "action teams," one per strategic objective.
"They'll lay out the specific steps that need to take place in the next 12 to 18 months to achieve those five-year objectives," Porter said. "I was very pleased with how the progress went. We probably have a little more work to do."