Return to Headlines

Strategic Planning: Setting the course for Riverdale’s future

Posted on Dec. 20, 2018

RIVERDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT – They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. When it comes to strategic planning, that first step is often a step up for an aerial view of the current reality. Superintendent Jim Schlachter says this is crucial. "Often people will want to start by looking down the road to the destination, but resources will follow your focus. If you’re not careful, you could lose what you have now by not building those key factors into your roadmap to the future."

From there, the sky’s the limit. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Superintendent Schlachter says the best strategic plans are a little audacious. They should stretch districts to set challenging goals that propel the community’s vision for what learning can be for its students. It should also take the full three- to five-year term of the plan to reach those goals.

Right off the bat, Riverdale pulled together an extensive 35-person planning team — comprising students, parents, teachers, members of the Parent Teacher Club and Riverdale School Foundation, two school board members, support staff and administration — to gain insights, gauge community preferences and get everyone on the same page in determining future priorities. The team met several times and the fruits of its labor were presented to eight community groups for input. In total, 113 people weighed in on the process. 

Four overarching themes emerged to shape what Riverdale’s future will look like — innovative educational model, curriculum and instruction, climate and culture, and district stability. The next step will boil down what will need to happen in the next three to five years to get us there. "This will happen as the process produces a plan that clearly articulates to all concerned the strength of our schools and the direction we are moving to provide outstanding educational experiences that match what is needed in today’s environment," Superintendent Schlachter says.

Beginning in January, the team will begin structuring a game plan as individual committees drill down to develop a specialized, detailed framework for each theme. Upon approval of the strategic plan, the district will develop specific actions and timelines necessary to achieve the objectives. The new plan will provide a base from which we can measure progress toward achieving the desired results. Superintendent Schlachter says it’s imperative to align workforce and financial resources to the strategic goals. Equally important is communicating the plan clearly so that it’s embraced enthusiastically by the entire community — parents, students, teachers, staff and administrators — not just the school board and district office. 

"We all need to own it and be excited for where we’re headed,” says Superintendent Schlachter. “This work is setting us up for what we aspire to do, what we’re really striving for as a district. I hope we can energize people to take the next step with us."

one strategic planning group has discussion around table

The strategic planning team was broken into smaller groups to work on the emerging themes.