Creating an Effective Strategic Plan for the School District

By Lane, Randy J.; Bishop, Harold L. et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Creating an Effective Strategic Plan for the School District


Lane, Randy J., Bishop, Harold L., Wilson-Jones, Linda, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The purpose of this study was to examine the process of developing a strategic plan for school districts through communication and involvement of all stakeholders. This process takes into consideration the diverse concerns and principles; supports scholarly and coherent decision making; and employs the development of a strategic plan through both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. As a final point, strategic planning should be able to show where we are; where we want to go; how we will get there; the time line involved; and the cost associated with the project.

The strategic planning technique is easily adapted to various organizations including school districts. In the past decision and planning process was incorporated by a select group of leaders at the top of the hierarchy of the organization. However, many diverse groups within the organization should have the ability to have input in the plan the process of analyzing various situations and deciding in which direction the organization would move. The consequences of this planning advanced a document now attributed as a strategic plan. Once the plan has been developed and approved it is then implemented over a specific period of time.

According to Bryson (1995), strategic planning is:

"a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does and why it does it. To deliver the best results, strategic planning requires broad yet effective information gathering, development and exploration of strategic alternative, and an emphasis on future implications of present decisions.

The planning process can help smooth the progress of communication and involvement, contain varied concerns and principles, promote intelligent and logical resolution making, and encourage implementation. As a final point, strategic planning can consequently deal with individuals' life mysteries (Bryson, 1995). Strategic planning has its roots in the military with early organizations mirroring this chain of command approach. The decisions and planning thus was employed by a selected few leaders at the top of the organization. This planning process involved analyzing various situations and deciding in which direction the organization would move. The results of this planning evolved a document referred to now as a strategic plan. Once established, the plan could then be implemented (Wall & Wall, 1995).

In the early 1950s the business world captivated with the ideas of formulating strategic plans, the process became widespread. This was due to private and public agencies believing that the strategic planning process was the answer to all their despair. However, after the boom of that era, businesses discarded the fad until the 1990s, when it resurfaced as a planning process that had particular benefits (Mintzberg, 1994).

Problem Statement

In the past ten years, southeastern school districts have faced continuous organizational changes in its schools, along with state and federal mandates, challenges of diversity, and an influx of ESL students. School districts are therefore faced with developing innovative strategies to address these changes while it continues to meet the every day School districts and states have engaged in formulating strategic plans in order to implement change and in order to become acclimated to the ever changing environment (Rowley, Lujan, & Dolence, 1997).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of strategic planning process is to enable school districts, other organizations, and leaders to concentrate its abilities in establishing area, goals, objectives and activities over a predetermined timeline. The process allows the leaders of the organization to act in response to a changing state of affairs and to also generate decisions and actions that will lead and shape the organizations future.

Benefits of Strategic Planning

Managers and administrators may ask, is strategic planning the answer to many of their organizational challenges? …

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