Today’s Situation - School District of Elmbrook Challenges
The School District of Elmbrook operates in a challenging environment that requires it to plan strategically for its future. Factors that contribute to this environment include:
- Increased constituent expectations for the district to achieve higher academic and behavioral standards.
- Increased competition for shrinking resources, including tax dollars from the community the district serves.
- Increased needs and expectations for special education and other services for an increasingly diverse student population.
- An information revolution, driven by technology that is redefining the basic conceptualization of schooling and the way curriculum is developed, instruction is delivered, and achievement is assessed.
- Pressures from local constituents for the district to continually increase quality and results while at the same time reduce costs, and to improve both effectiveness and efficiency.
These factors required the School District of Elmbrook to carefully determine what its constituents want so that requirements and expectations are clearly defined. Successful educational organizations are driven by the desire to achieve results that are aligned with constituent expectations. The more carefully results and expectations are aligned, the more willing the community is to support the district.
All school districts constantly face external, and sometimes, internal challenges. These challenges have the potential to affect the ability of the organization to sustain or improve performance or to maintain currently existing levels of performance and programs. One essential strategic planning role of the Board of Education and senior leaders within the School District is to continuously monitor both the external and internal environment to identify and address challenges to the organization.
Basing the most recent external and internal environmental scan on the survey results collected during this strategic planning process, the most important challenges the Board of Education and senior leaders must plan for over the next approximately five years are:
- Maintaining and improving the range of quality education programs that exist in the district
- Continuing to attract, develop, and retain quality staff members
- Improving community trust in the Board of Education and district administration
- Addressing the issues of declining enrollments
- Maintaining the district’s competitive advantage in the region
- Ensuring that students and staff learn and work in a secure/safe environment
- Responding to the constraints of state revenue caps
- Scheduling and implementing long-term facility improvements
It is imperative that the district responds appropriately to these challenges in order for it to continue its reputation of providing an excellent education to its students. The first step in responding to these challenges was to complete a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. The district challenges, other survey results, and a district level review of performance based on the seven Baldrige National Quality Program categories were used by the strategic planning team to perform a SWOT analysis. This analysis provides information to district senior leaders about the organization’s strengths, vulnerabilities, and opportunities for both improvement and growth within constraints identified through this analysis. The SWOT analysis helps the district to remain agile and anticipate unexpected events that might have a profound effect on the long-term health and viability of the organization. The information generated by the SWOT analysis will be used by the Board of Education and district senior leaders as they develop plans to address the challenges listed above and as they monitor the effectiveness of those plans.
This strategic plan is anticipated to cover the five-year period from July 2008 through June 2013. It will be reviewed annually by the Board of Education and senior leaders of the district.
Mission and Vision
The following mission statement focuses on constituent expectations of the most essential outcome the district hopes to achieve. It is a description of what the School District ultimately wants to accomplish.
The mission of the School District of Elmbrook is to educate and inspire every student to think, to learn, and to succeed.
The following vision statement is a broad and general description of the way that the School District of Elmbrook wants to be perceived by its constituents. The vision statement gives constituents a brief description about how the district intends to achieve the mission statement.
The future of the School District of Elmbrook is to be an exemplary district with an uncompromising commitment to achieve powerful results for all students.
Students communicate effectively, master core academic subjects, have the ability to solve complex academic and community problems, become independent analytical thinkers, develop interpersonal skills, use technology appropriately, make ethical decisions, understand differences in world cultures, and exhibit creativity.
All staff collaborates and engages with each other to deliver exceptionally strong, balanced programming through relevant, dynamic instruction focused on student learning. We demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement through research, ongoing professional development, and use of best practice. We work relentlessly to develop meaningful connections with every student to ensure success.
Families and community participate in the life of the schools through partnerships and volunteering with the district to support the mission and vision. The district values the strong partnership, effectively communicates, and safeguards the community’s investment. The culture of the School District of Elmbrook is built on a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. Together we celebrate success.
The strategic plan includes targets, goals and objectives that aim to support the district mission and vision. Three key areas have been identified as crucial to district success. These areas include:
Fiscal Responsibility, and
Connected Learning Community.
These targets respond to the high priorities identified in the constituent survey:
- Work cooperatively with diverse groups
- Computer literacy standards
- Ethical decision making
- Global and cultural issues
- Respond to the constraints of state revenue caps
- Address the issues of declining enrollments
- Maintain and improve the range of quality education programs that exist in the district
- Continue to attract, develop, and retain quality staff members
- Maintain the district’s competitive advantage in the region
The following targets have been identified in order to achieve the mission and vision.
Student Learning Target
By 2013, at least 97% of all students who have been in the district for one complete school year will meet or exceed Wisconsin state standards in tested areas as measured by the Wisconsin State Assessment System and district common assessments.
By 2013, performance of all federally accountable subgroups will be at 85% proficient or advanced levels as indicated by the Wisconsin State Assessment System.
By 2013, at least 95% of all students will demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge and skills meaningfully by solving academic and real life problems through analytical and creative thinking, as measured by attaining at least 75% of possible points on the constructed response portion of the Wisconsin State Assessment System.
Fiscal Responsibility Target
The district will plan for and manage financial and other resources to achieve student learning targets, sustain infrastructure, maintain a 15% reserve, and avoid an operational override referendum through the school year 2013-14.
Connected Learning Community Target
The district will purposefully listen to, inform, and engage all stakeholder groups in the areas of
The Elmbrook Experience
as illustrated by the following goal:
75% of all stakeholders will be connected to the Elmbrook School District Learning Community.
Strategic Goals and Objectives
Strategic goals and objectives describe how the Board of Education and district senior leaders intend to create the conditions necessary within the organization to address sustainable organizational success. District targets will be achieved through the following identified goals and objectives in each target area.
Strategic Goal One: Improve Student Learning
The purpose of Strategic Goal One is to reach student learning targets. To meet this strategic goal, the district will promote a culture of continuous improvement focused on student success. Instruction will be standards-based with a focus on application of knowledge and skills. Critical thinking will be emphasized as we prepare students for their roles as adults in the 21st century. Employee development will be fostered and involvement encouraged. Attracting and retaining quality employees is necessary to achieve this strategic goal.
Deploying the strategic objective that states the district will create a “culture of continuous improvement focused on student success” means that the district will-
- Focus on continuous improvement including data analysis and development of viable school and district improvement plans using the plan-do-study-act process.
- Identify annually all students who do not meet or exceed Wisconsin state standards in tested areas as measured by the Wisconsin State Assessment System and district common assessments in order to meet individual student needs and decrease specific achievement gaps between identified subgroups and the total student population.
Deploying the “standards-based instruction” strategic objective means that the district will-
- Set high expectations for all students with clear, consistent targets and a variety of opportunities for students to demonstrate their level of understanding.
Deploying the strategic objective which states that there will be “a focus on application of knowledge and skills” means that the district will-
- Provide ample opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding by applying the knowledge and skills learned.
Deploying the strategic objective which states “critical thinking will be emphasized” means that the district will-
- Provide opportunities, at least weekly, to exercise and increase student abilities to become critical thinkers.
Deploying the strategic objective which states “employee development will be fostered” means that the district will-
- Develop opportunities for growing professionally in a collaborative and teaming work culture that are, varied, and frequent to support the district mission, vision, and student learning targets.
Deploying the strategic objective which states “employee involvement (will be) encouraged” means that the district will-
- Support time, talent, trust, respect, teacher empowerment, and involvement in decision-making in order to maximize student results.
Deploying the strategic objective which states “attracting and retaining quality employees” means that the district will-
- Institute exemplary systems and processes for employees regarding recruitment, retention, evaluation, compensation and benefits, learning and development, and succession planning.
The district support systems will be aligned to ensure success in this category in an effort to promote the district mission. The student learning goal and corresponding targets include the development of continuous improvement plans with measurable outcomes and state anticipated results. Working towards these goals will support the School District of Elmbrook mission to educate and inspire every student to think, to learn, and to succeed.
Strategic Goal Two: Maintain Fiscal Responsibility
The purpose of Strategic Goal Two is to reach fiscal responsibility targets. To meet this strategic goal, the district will strive for balanced budgets and maintaining its fiscal health within the state structure for funding, provide funds required for strategies to achieve student learning targets, and fund the regular maintenance and enhancement of district infrastructure sufficient to prevent a decline in overall quality.
Deploying the strategic objective which states, “the district will strive for balanced budgets and maintaining its fiscal health within the state structure for funding,” means that the district will-
- Generate and be open to ideas for ways to increase revenues and reduce expenses consistent with the district’s mission and vision.
- Examine opportunities for greater efficiencies by
- Increasing asset utilization
- Improving productivity
- Increasing innovation
- Reducing cycle time
- Map out a plan to utilize them for maximum results and minimum disruption over the following five years.
- Identify, analyze, prioritize, and implement selected options sufficient to meet annual financial targets.
- Continue the proven and consistent practice of ending each year with at least 15% in reserves as specified in Board of Education Policy 3180, Fund Balance – General Fun
- Pass budgets intended to ensure 15% in reserves or restore the 15% level if actual district experience does not match budgeted projections.
- Continue to make annual contributions to the Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) fund when possible.
- Manage district finances to achieve or outperform annual budgets
Deploying the strategic objective which states, “provide funds required for strategies to achieve student learning targets” means the district will-
- Keep student learning targets in the forefront of district priorities.
- Continue to focus on those strategies that will lead to the greatest likelihood of increasing student achievement.
- Acknowledge that educational leaders in the district might require new funds for certain purposes, as well as a redeployment of resources, to achieve results.
Deploying the strategic objective which states “fund the regular maintenance and enhancement of district infrastructure sufficient to prevent a decline in overall quality” means the district will-
- Avoid lagging behind in such areas as
- Building maintenance, repairs, and upkeep
- Textbook acquisition and replacement
- Technology acquisition and replacement
- Continuous staff development
- Other needs that support the primary student learning activities
- Promote a consistent quality and comfortable environment at all sites and facilities.
The strategic goal for continuous improvement is closely intertwined with this strategic goal, because in order for the district to achieve this goal in all of its elements, the district will have to work smarter – work efficiently and effectively in generating revenue, deploying resources, controlling expenses, and monitoring progress.
The strategic goal for employee quality is also closely related, since salaries and benefits are such a large portion of the district’s budget. Effective employees are a key resource in achieving student learning targets, so they must be clearly supported by the budget for the highest quality hiring, development, and retention.
Strategic Goal Three: Create a Connected Learning Community
The purpose of Strategic Goal Three is to reach connected learning community targets. To meet this strategic goal and create higher levels of constituent satisfaction, the district will integrate communication strategies into key processes and initiatives, engage stakeholders to increase participation and strengthen decision-making processes, and communicate effectively with all stakeholders.
Deploying the strategic objective that states the district will “integrate communication strategies into key processes and initiatives” means that the district will-
- Establish a culture that recognizes the need to integrate communications strategies (listen, inform, and engage) in all major initiatives and decisions.
- Make a conscious effort to listen to, inform, and engage appropriate stakeholders for all major initiatives and decisions.
Deploying the strategic objective that states the district will “engage stakeholders to increase participation and strengthen decision-making processes” means the district will-
- Identify individuals in the community who may have a vested interest or specific knowledge relevant to topics under consideration.
- Actively engage appropriate stakeholders in addressing and analyzing district issues.
Deploying the strategic objective that states the district will “communicate effectively with all groups” means the District will-
- Achieve balance in providing appropriate communication with each stakeholder group regarding general district activities, as well as topics specifically related to that group.
- Develop and implement ways to measure the effectiveness of communication with each stakeholder group and revise communication strategies as needed.
It is the responsibility of the Board of Education, senior leaders, and district staff to deploy the mission, vision, and strategic goals and objectives. This means that the School District of Elmbrook will need to be strategy-focused because well-deployed strategies will lead to the realization of the district’s mission of exemplary student performance.
The Board of Education and district senior leaders play key roles in communicating the mission, vision, and strategic goals to community members, parents, and district staff in order to gain consensus, support, and commitment. It is the Board of Education’s responsibility to monitor the deployment of the strategic plan and to annually review the progress made in deploying the strategic goals and in achieving the mission, vision, and district targets.