Effective Strategic Planning consists of all managerial and leadership activities that lead to the definition of goals and to the determination of appropriate means to achieve those goals.

    Planning is probably one of the most important functions and the board and the administrative team because it sets the pattern for the other activities to follow.

    The four elements of effective planning are:

    (1) Evaluating environmental forces and district resources,
    (2) Establishing a set of district goals,
    (3) Developing strategies and plans to achieve stated goals,
    (4) formulating a decision making process.

    To understand the concept of an effective educational plan, it is important to recognize that the plan is not a document. The plan may be presented through a planning document, but the educational plan itself should be a set of management decisions about what a school district will be doing to be successful. Thus, in its most basic form, educational planning is the process of deciding what a district will do to be successful, economically viable, and how it will do this.


    Internal Uses of an Effective plan

    An educational plan can provide several internal benefits for a district. First, it can improve performance by identifying both the strengths and weaknesses of the district's operation and potential or emerging problem areas. Improved performance will also result from developing strategies that simultaneously build on the district's strengths and correct its weaknesses. Second, an educational plan can communicate to the administration and staff clear expectations regarding the district's performance and priorities. In addition, for districts with multiple campuses, units, or points of management responsibility, an educational plan can effectively coordinate and ensure consistency in the plans and operations of the various campuses. Fourth, an educational plan provides a solid basis for measuring performance of the overall district and of individual campus administrators. It establishes a standard for deciding if actual performance is good, bad, or indifferent. An educational plan also establishes a framework for making key decisions in the ongoing administrative process of the district.

    Finally, and perhaps most important, an educational plan and the process of developing it can be used to educate and motivate the key staff of a district. Through participation in analyzing past performance, evaluating the impact of trends and developments, and developing action plans for the future, administrators and other key staff tend to learn more about the total operation of a district and the relationship of their specific areas of responsibility to the achievement of the district's goals. This increased level of understanding and involvement generally leads to the increased commitment to achieveing the district's goals and, in turn, generates a higher level of motivation.

    External Uses of an Educational Plan

    An educational plan also has several uses in relationships with significant parties outside the district. First, it can be used to educate outside parties regarding the objectives, structure, and performance of a district. This use becomes important if the support - either financial or non-financial - of outside parties is important to a district's success. A clear example is the support of local taxpayers. A less clear but equally significant example is the support of regulatory or legislative bodies. Second, an educational plan can be used to secure funding from outside sources, either individual or institutional. By formalizing intentions in an educational plan, a district is committing itself to action. By communicating this commitment, to selected, significant outside parties, a district may pre-empt actions that could have a negative impact on its own plans and actions.