Strategy and Priorities
A well-managed modern organization should have a well developed Strategic Plan with clearly defined priorities and strategies to inform leadership and the organization’s stake-holders of where it is going and how it going to get there.
In this year’s budget battle there has been a lot of questions about priorities. In particular members of the Board of Supervisors questioning what the priorities of the School Board are and how they are reflected within the school divisions funding request. Supervisor Shelton in particular asked the School Board about priorities during the March 20th joint hearing.
However, as members of the School Board pointed out to the Supervisors, the board annually adopts budget goals and priorities and they are printed within the budget book provided to Supervisors. Furthermore, a quick search of the school division’s website the SCPS 2017-2022 Strategic Plan can be found. The Strategic Plan clearly lays out the strategy and priorities of the division and School Board.
A particular issue of concern for recently appointed Supervisor from the George Washington District, Tom Coen is the expense of a professional development opportunity for county teachers – the Teaching and Learning Summit. In questions Coen forwarded to the Superintendent after the joint hearing he indicated scrapping the Teaching and Learning Summit could reduce school division costs by $400,000. Coen has been critical of the division provided professional development opportunity in other pubic settings as well.
However, the School Board has clearly made the professional development opportunity a priority that it desires to provide to school division employees. In the FY17 budget the School Board included the following in the budget priorities for that year “Provide additional funding for professional development”, in FY 18 the following priorities were presented by the School Board in their adopted budgets “Fund professional development program for all SCPS staff to enhance skills”, “Fund phased computer initiative for teachers and staff to assist in classroom skills.”
Furthermore within the SCPS Strategic Plan the School Board also identifies professional development as a priority. In Board Priority 1.1 of the SCPS Strategic Plan the School Board makes this statement “Provide professional learning opportunities to expand capacity of staff to support students developing critical thinking, creativity, citizenship, communication and collaboration skills, and wellness across content areas,” and in Board Priority 2.3 “Expand professional growth opportunities for all employees.”
The School Board’s budget priorities and Strategic Plan further detail their priority on staff compensation and student achievement. The Strategic Plan identifies what the division values and where the School Board would like to drive the division.
So where is the county and the Board of Supervisor with their priorities and Strategic Planning? If you Google “Stafford County Strategic Plan” you get results that lead you to a couple of documents and plans that inform you about the direction of the county. However, there is no one Strategic Plan for the county.
A web page titled “Board Priorities for the Community” is undated, but appears to have been written in 2013. The page references the 350 anniversary of Stafford County, the renovation of Grafton Elementary School and an economic development plan to attract data centers to the county.
The strategic direction of the county is contained in multiple documents, including the Comprehensive Plan, the BOS Financial Policies, and the Economic Development Strategic Plan. All of the documents and plans that feed the strategy are detailed in this table.
The county severely lacks a well defined strategic plan and vision for the future. Furthermore there are no discernible measures for success to enable residents of the county to determine if the county’s leadership strategy is meeting the goals of the county or not.