LOCS Board of Education continues strategic planning talks, holds off on making decision until next meeting

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

Lake Orion Community School’s Board of Education met again on July 24. On the docket was a continuation of the strategic planning discussion held during their June 26 meeting.

During the June 26 meeting, board members listened to a strategic planning presentation by Kay Cornell, senior consultant for Learning Forward, and Suzanne Klein, Professor in Oakland University’s School of Education and Human Services. During this presentation, Cornell and Klein laid out a plan of action for creating a new strategic plan for the district.

After this presentation, the board engaged in a discussion on whether the time was right to begin work on a new strategic plan.

Trustees Nate Butki and Jake Singer, along with Vice President Scott Taylor, brought up concerns that strategic planning would interfere with bond communication.

“We have so much to talk about right now with the community and the things that are going on that, if we’re going to go out and get into a robust conversation, we haven’t even gotten into a robust conversation on bond implementation, so we got a lot of work to do on that,” Butki said during the meeting. “So, it’s a lot. So I think it’s worth really digging into — what are all the things we need to be out working with people on, and where does this stack up from a timing side?”

Treasurer Jim Weidman and President Birgit McQuiston spoke in favor of moving forward with implementing a new strategic plan, stating that it would allow the district to get in-step with the bond as far as planning.

The discussion wrapped up with the board agreeing to table the discussion until their July 24 meeting.

(See the July 3 issue of The Lake Orion Review for the article.)

McQusiton opened the strategic planning discussion during the July 24 meeting by explaining a little bit more about strategic planning and it’s history in the district.

“When a district initiates a strategic plan it involves the district and the community and the work it accomplishes becomes the framework of what the board adopts and thus becomes the work of the administration,” said McQuiston. “Strategic plans are developed to last approximately three to five years and by this measure we were set to redo it several years ago, but with the transitions and phases that we were working through, we waited. Having worked through the reshaping of our elementary school school structure, redistricting, the closing and repurposing of a building, the passing of a sinking fund and now a bond, we are poised to reconnect it all with the help of our Dragon community and move forward with a fresh strategic plan. But I know that you guys have other things you want to talk about.”

Butki and Taylor both restated that their concerns were the same as they were in the previous meeting.

“My question and concern is strictly around the timing of it,” Butki said. “There was a little bit of seeking to understand in the last one, which is what is required of the board from a time commitment to get through that process, and (the strategic planning consultants) shared that it was light from the board but it seemed that it wouldn’t be…So I was trying to seek to understand what do we need to do as a board in order to do it right and are we doing too many things in the fall?”

Butki and Taylor both noted that they believed that the district’s current strategic plan is strong enough to put off until next fall.

Both Weidman and Trustee Steve Drakos spoke in favor of proceeding with the strategic planning, due to the fact that the district had already been in contact with professionals (Cornell and Klein) who are willing to work with them. Drakos also added that he felt putting off strategic planning would be “borderline neglectful.”

As discussion circled, Weidman jumped in to state that if there were clear obstacles that would hinder the board from adequately creating a new strategic plan then he would be in favor of putting it off until next fall.

The board agreed to move on to Assistant Superintendent Heidi Mercer’s Bond Update presentation in order to see what kind of work will be taking place during this fall and if their concerns on how the bond work is being communicated had been addressed. (For information on the LOCS Bond Update please see page 1.)

Conversations about strategic planning ended with Weidman suggesting that board and cabinet members individually consider the potential obstacles they could run into if the board decides to move forward with strategic planning this fall.

The decision was tabled again until the Aug. 14 meeting.