For some, the words “strategic plan” represents a bureaucratic exercise with little practical application – a tome that ultimately collects dust. For others, strategic planning means a Herculean task, a ton of time and a committee no one wants to be on.

Phillip Potenziano, superintendent of the Brunswick School Department.

In reality, strategic plans provide a framework and a road map that keep long- and short-term goals top of mind. A strategic plan sets a bar against which all initiatives will be measured. In short, if something doesn’t support the mission and the strategic plan, it doesn’t happen. Strategic planning is an ongoing, integrated process in most high-performing organizations and that includes the Brunswick School Department.

According to the American Productivity & Quality Center, an authority in benchmarking, best practices, and process and performance improvement, strategic plans in the educational arena serve several key purposes.

A strategic plan:

• Formalizes the school district’s mission, vision, values and goals, and perhaps most important, “enables stakeholders to voice and agree on the same priorities and focus on the same path to improvement.”
• Engages the community and stakeholders through focus groups or feedback sessions, providing insight early in the process and fostering community support.
• Can often create efficiencies that positively affect the bottom line.

When I joined the Brunswick School Department as superintendent on July 1, 2020, our previous strategic plan had ended in 2020, and we were deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. We didn’t have time to develop a process, much less a plan, because we were reacting and pivoting to accommodate changing situations every day. Ultimately, many of the experiences from the past two years, such as online learning and the resulting changes, would not exist or be as common prior to COVID. Our plan moving forward will have the real benefit of hindsight!


So, it’s time to start planning again. In 2022, we are launching the strategic planning process. BSD has officially partnered with Hanover Research, an organization that has worked with thousands of school districts across the country. Hanover will help guide us through this process by outlining best practices for four key phases of strategic plan development, implementation and evaluation. The result? Objective information, a comprehensive plan and tangible action steps.

Our first steps will be to:

• Form an internal design team of internal stakeholders who will lead the process.
• Form a committee comprised of internal and external stakeholders and conduct a situation analysis.
• Gather input from those whom the plan will guide through surveys and focus groups with staff, students, parents, community leaders and others.
• Set strategic plan goals.
• Develop and implement an action plan.
• Monitor progress and make adjustments.

Our ultimate goal is to have an actionable plan that addresses the needs and wants of our entire community (and therefore has its support), and is truly a blueprint for success. We intend to have a plan to share in February 2023, and we look forward to engaging with our community for this important undertaking.

In many ways, generating a strategic plan is, indeed, a Herculean task, but like Hercules, our community has the strength and stamina to take on the challenge, and completing it will ensure our school department’s long-term health and effectiveness.

Stay tuned for more information on how you can contribute.

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