Trustee Richard Franklin suggested at this week’s board meeting that it would be better for a new board to pass their own strategic plan, rather than continue with whatever the previous board thought the priorities should be. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River School District to realign strategic plan with election cycle

Now that elections are every four years, a five-year strategic plan doesn’t really work

The next Campbell River School District (SD72) strategic plan will likely be “owned” by the board who passes it.

With the current strategic plan coming to an end next year, they need to start working on the next one, Superintendent Tom Longridge reminded the Board of Education at this week’s public meeting – the first of the new school year. But with the recent change in board election terms, Longridge asked, would it be prudent to review the terms of the strategic plan, as well?

“As we’re engaging in the planning for the next board’s strategic plan, we came up against some questions that we need answered by the board, just to make sure we’re checking our assumptions,” Longridge said.

The previous plan was five years in duration and is due to expire in December of 2018, which means they will need to have a new one in place to begin 2019. But with an election coming up next fall, Longridge was wondering if the board would like to change that timeline.

When the strategic plan was created, Longridge said, trustees were elected to three-year terms. Now that they are elected to four-year terms, it was thought maybe they should look at re-aligning the strategic plan to better line up with the terms of the board members who will pass it.

“When I was elected to the board, one of the things that occurred was being presented with the board’s strategic plan,” said Trustee Richard Franklin. “It wasn’t my plan, it was the former board’s plan. I was thinking it would be great if the board who was actually going to implement the plan could be the one to develop the plan. That could be facilitated by this board doing all sorts of groundwork and discussion and surveying the school system, talking to senior managers and everyone in the education family here in Campbell River – finding out the direction we should go – but because it’s the next board who is going to be owning that plan, they need to be the ones to pass it.”

Trustee Joyce McMann agreed, adding that when she was first elected to the board, creating a strategic plan was one of the first orders of business, “and I found that extremely helpful in terms of accumulating the understanding of what the organization was, what the opportunities for input were, and having the opportunity to discuss it with other board members really helped us coalesce as a board.”

Trustee John Kerr also threw his support behind the idea that the timeline and duration of the strategic plan should change with the election cycle.

“We may well find that there are people elected to the new board who will have a different direction they want to take the board in,” Kerr said. “For them to have to basically be saddled with a plan in which they had no input and with which they may not agree, is not what we want to be doing.”

One of the problems with having the new board create the strategic plan is that it may create a situation where there isn’t one in place while that happens. With the current plan expiring in December and the board not being elected until November, it doesn’t leave much time to get the plan put into place.

“That’s a tight turnaround,” admitted Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick, “and there likely could be a gap, depending on how long the board feels they need, but if all the data has been gathered (by this board), it could be in place by February of 2019.

“This is actually a great opportunity and time to think about trying to align everything.”

It was also pointed out by Trustee Kerr that any gap would just be filled by the previous plan while the new one was in development, anyway.

It was decided that the recommendation to staff should be to begin working on the background for the next strategic plan to be four years in duration, implemented by the next board as soon as possible after being elected.