Susan Birkenmaier, superintendent of Lemont-Bromberek School District 113A, is enthusiastic about getting the district’s strategic planning process up and running.
When the board of education hired Birkenmaier last spring, terms of the superintendent’s contract required her to facilitate the development of a five-year strategic plan for the district. The board stated the purpose of the process as “to determine where the district wants to be in the future and what steps are necessary to get to that point.”
The board also specified that the strategic planning process is to be completed by March 1, 2013, so the clock is ticking. But Birkenmaier said she is confident the deadline will be met.
“We expect to be able to have a vision and a plan – all infrastructure components for the school system – in place by March 1,” Birkenmaier said.
To lay the groundwork, district staff and administrators have been busy gathering data and a facilitator is conducting focus-group interviews with a variety of stakeholders including board members, staff and union representatives, parent and community group members, representatives from area government agencies and ninth-grade students in the district.
School district says, “Let’s talk”
In the next phase of the planning process, the district will conduct a series of discussions designed to both inform the public about District 113A’s progress – and to elicit input from members of the community to assist administrators and the board of education as they prepare the five-year strategic plan.
The first session of the district’s “Forum for the Future” is planned for 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 3, in the Learning Resource Center at Old Quarry Middle School, 16100 W. 127th St. Everyone is invited to be a part of the conversation. The Nov. 3 session will focus on District 113A successes and challenges, as well as what the future holds for education.
Successive forums will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 10, focusing on student-centered educational priorities and what’s important for District 113A; and 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, concentrating on “What we’ve learned through this process.”
This week, the school district sent invitations to the forums home to parents, and is encouraging all community members to share their ideas at one or all of the events – regardless of whether they currently have children attending school in the district. Birkenmaier stressed that participants are encouraged to attend the sessions for as long as their schedules will allow.
A little background information
In the early stages of the strategic planning process, Birkenmaier set out to find a facilitator for the labor-intensive endeavor, and was pleased when Steven Humphrey agreed to come on board – free of charge.
Humphrey is currently vice president for business development at ECRA Group, a research and analytics consulting firm. He retired in June as superintendent of DuPage High School District 88 and has been involved in the education profession since 1970. As a Lemont resident, Humphrey is volunteering his time as a way to give back to the community.
At the Sept. 4 meeting of the District 113A Board of Education, Humphrey explained that his involvement in the strategic planning process for Lemont-Bromberek is a personal project for him, not ECRA group. He said now that he is retired, he wants to “give back to a board of education that wants to give back to kids.”
“I’m here to be a partner with you,” Humphrey told the board of education and administrators in September. “What do you want to accomplish?”
Data gathering, focus group interviews on parallel tracks
Birkenmaier explained that administrators and staff members will continue to compile data while Humphrey conducts focus group interviews.
“Our work is parallel to (that of) the focus groups,” Birkenmaier said. “We are asking, ‘Do our perceptions match those of the community?’ ”
As the strategic planning process moves along, the district will send out a community survey sometime in November to gather more information, Birkenmaier said.
Administrators will report the results of the community survey to the board of education, after which board members, administrators and Humphrey will work together to develop goals for the district. Birkenmaier said she expects the goals to be “in the board’s hands” for its meeting on the third Tuesday in December.
After that, the district’s administrative team will begin working with staff to formulate an action plan and report back to the board again in February, with the goal of having District 113A's strategic plan in place by the March 1 target date.
"As we regain fiscal stability and face the challenges of new education reform requirements, we want to ensure we have the appropriate curricular and staffing plans, technology and facilities in place," said Birkenmaier in a press release this week. "The community forums provide an opportunity for community members to tell us what's important for our schools.”
For more information, visit the district's website by clicking here.
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