During the first board meeting in May, Riverbank Unified School District’s (RUSD) Board of Trustees adopted a Strategic Plan that will guide decision-making for the upcoming school years. The plan was developed with community input and includes priority rankings of various objectives as well the criteria to evaluate the objectives every school year.
The plan was developed on March 21 and 22 during the school year. On Friday, March 21 several members of the RUSD community met with a facilitator and developed a new mission and vision for the District. The group of 25 community members consisted of teachers, support staff, school administrators, parents and students. Approximately 2/3 of the community members were school employees and 1/3 were students or parents. Throughout the 6-7 hour day, members of the community engaged in discussion that acknowledge the rich and proud history of the District and focused on preparing students for the future. The Strategic Plan has three main purposes: First, the plan defines the District’s vision, mission and strategic goals; second, the plan details how the District will achieve those goals; third, the plan serves as the common tool for managing changing priorities, as indicated by the ordering of the objectives. All District decisions should reflect the priorities of the Strategic Plan.
“As the superintendent, I observed the community portion of the process on March 21 and the board process on Saturday, March 22,” stated Daryl Camp. “We are fortunate to have such a caring community who believe that a strong educational system is critical to the success of students.
“The community had thoughtful discussions about what the District is trying to accomplish and the direction for the District in the future,” added Camp. “On the following day, the board of trustees reviewed the mission and vision statements from the community input and made a few changes before prioritizing a set of 23 objectives.”
The board struggled to prioritize the 23 objectives during the workshop. A frequent mantra during the two days was the District can afford to do about anything it wants to do, but not everything it wants to do. The facilitator mentioned that with the District’s $25 million annual budget, it can have the most state-of-the-art science program in the nation for the 2200 students in the District if all $25 million were spent on science; however, what would that leave for the other objectives. This Strategic Plan becomes a guide to making informed decisions around staffing and programs. During financially good times, the District may spend additional resources on highly prioritized items and during the more challenging years, lower prioritized items may see reductions.
Through the Strategic Plan the board ranked Fiscal Accountability as its No. 1 priority. This is not surprising given that ensuring the fiscal stability of the District is one of their primary responsibilities and knowing that the District spent the last two years managing a fiscal crisis. The second priority was to recruit, select, orient, develop, support, evaluate and retain the highest quality staff. The next four priorities were to support the core subject areas English-Literacy, math, history/social science and science.
With a relatively new board of trustees, the development of a Strategic Plan gave the new board an opportunity to form a team that focuses on the needs and wants of the District. Since November 2013 only board president, Elizabeth Meza, remains as a trustee. Trustee Suzanne Dean, who was elected in November, had previous experience as a RUSD trustee and Susan Taylor, also elected in November, retired from the District in 2011 as the assistant superintendent of educational services. Both Connie Gilbert and Ana Vigil were recently appointed as trustees after two trustees resigned from the board. This was a great way to build understanding about the various objectives of the District and to prioritize those objectives.
Over the next few years, the District will work to further align the $25 million budget to the objectives in the Strategic Plan. The board of trustees will receive an annual report on what is accomplished in the plan and the board may make revisions to the plan annually. A major challenge will be to align the Strategic Plan with other District and site plans, including, the recently developed Local Control Accountability Plan which can be viewed on the District’s website.
On Wednesday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. the board of trustees had a study session on the 2014-15 budget. Then, on Tuesday, June 17 the board considered adopting the 2014-15 budget before the July 1 statutory deadline for having an adopted budget.
The plan can be viewed on the District’s website under “Quick Links” on the left side of the home page. There are two links on the Strategic Plan page. One is a copy of the full plan and the other shows the objective rankings of the board and the community.