Turning Plans into Reality

The strategic plan, by itself, is simply the plan for change in the district. Turning that plan into reality is the next phase of the work.

Throughout the strategic planning process, Superintendent Ruiz and her Senior Management Team continuously sought out ways to begin enacting aspects of the plan, rather than waiting for the plan to be completed by the team and approved by the School Committee. For example, once it became clear that the high school guidance department would be replaced with a college and career planning department, the district moved quickly to make this happen. Similarly, because the district budget for the coming school year needed to be finalized before the final strategic plan was presented, the superintendent took steps to ensure that there would be funds available for certain prioritized initiatives from the strategic plan. By addressing low-hanging fruit and achieving "quick wins" while planning was still underway, the superintendent and her Senior Management Team were able to build credibility and momentum throughout the process. This also served, in many ways, to validate the direction the district had already embarked upon prior to the strategic planning process. For example, a new class had been recently developed for teachers on the culture of the Dominican Republic (due to the high percentage of students in the district from this country). Several of the recommendations that emerged during the strategic planning process were related to building cultural competence among teachers and helping them better understand their students' backgrounds, thus reaffirming the district's efforts already underway aimed at this goal, including the Dominican Republic class for teachers.

We also developed a set of tools to help guide the district in implementing its ambitious plan. These tools were designed to stimulate key conversations about issues that invariably arise in decision-making.  A description of each of the tools -- along with download links -- follows:

More About Tools

key takeaways

  • Momentum
    Much like a garden needs continuous tending, so too does a strategic plan. The document is only as good as the accountability process established to keep the momentum going.
  • Monitor results
    We recommend the formation of a continuous improvement advisory committee that consists of district and community representatives who regularly monitor the district's progress toward its goals and raise any red flags or draw attention to critical issues that need to be resolved. Members can serve a term on the committee and then rotate off in a staggered fashion so that there will always be fresh energy to steward the strategic plan.