Dr. Gene A. Camoni brings 33 years of experience in public education to his new position in the graduate education program. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Dr. Camoni served first as an elementary school teacher and coach in the Valley View School District. He then moved to administrative positions in public education and served in the Lehighton and Wyoming Area School Districts as an elementary school principal and in the Old Forge School District as a superintendent of schools. Dr. Camoni has also served as an adjunct instructor at Wilkes and has collaborated with Wilkes, Keystone College, and the University of Scranton on a variety of initiatives, including prospective teacher preparation, prospective administrator preparation and mentoring, program development and program review.
Dr. Camoni graduated from Wilkes in 1973 with the B.A. in elementary education. He also holds the associate’s in liberal arts from Keystone College, the M.S. in Education Administration, the Elementary Administration Certificate, and the Secondary Administration Certificate from the University of Scranton, and the Superintendent Letter of Eligibility from Widener University. Dr. Camoni was awarded the Ed.D.from Widener University in 1999.
Publication:School Strategic Planning
Superintendents face many challenges in their school districts throughout the course of any given year. Many of these challenges are complex and not as easily overcome as they would prefer. It can be argued that none is more complex than the task of developing and implementing a new strategic plan as mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
The strategic planning process is implemented differently in school districts (although there is guidance for the process from PDE) which results in positive and negative attitudes and perceptions on the part of faculty and administrators. This article reflects upon the general attitudes and perceptions of faculty and administrators in several Northeast Pennsylvania school districts during the 2008-2009 school year regarding the strategic planning process, the e-Strategic planning template put forth by PDE, and the benefits derived from the overall process.
Data about attitudes and perceptions were collected for study by utilizing two electronic surveys. The first survey included 6 statements and was designed to reflect general attitudes toward strategic planning and the benefits to the school district (internal community) and the general public (external community). It was distributed in December of 2008.
The second survey included 82 statements and expanded upon data from the first survey to include issues regarding the planning process, the planning template which is required by PDE, and the benefits derived from the planning process. It was distributed in February of 2009.
A total of 18 school districts from Northeastern Pennsylvania participated in this study. Thirteen school districts are members of Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19. Five school districts are members of Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18. Two hundred education professionals participated in the first survey. Eighty-two participated in the second survey. The results include information from faculty and administrators who participated in the planning process as well as those who did not participate.
History of Strategic Planning
The Chapter 4 Academic Standards and Assessment rules and regulations became effective on January 16, 1999. Chapter 4 was part of the sweeping changes to the Pennsylvania School Code which resulted from the passage of Act 48 of 1999.
Chapter 4 identified skills (included in academic standards) which students were expected to learn in content areas designated in specific grade levels. The standards – rigorous and measurable – were to guide educators in the task of preparing students to succeed in the increasingly competitive world economy.
As a guide for assisting public schools, charter schools, and area vocational-technical schools (AVTS) to be successful in this endeavor, the State Board of Education required each school to develop a six-year strategic plan and to review that plan in the third year in order to make necessary revisions. PDE regulations require the strategic plan to include evidence regarding how schools will incorporate the Chapter 4 academic standards into the curriculum as well as a plan to address complex and vital topics such as special education, professional staff development, and new teacher induction.
What is Strategic Planning?
According to Barry (2007), strategic planning is “a process of determining: (1) what your organization intends to accomplish, and (2) how you will direct the organization and its resources toward accomplishing these goals over the coming months and years” (p.5). Bryson (2004) believes that strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and the way it does it”(p. 6).
Strategic planning requires organizations to develop a mission, vision, and values and to identify, develop, and implement measurable goals and strategies designed to help the organization overcome its challenges. A strategic planning process also provides the opportunity for an organization to reevaluate and revise the plan. Inviting the participation of a diverse sampling of the organization’s stakeholders will help to ensure the planning process’s effectiveness. If the process is well-planned, implemented with the support of school district leadership, and conducted in a transparent working environment, participants would likely feel a sense of ownership for the strategic plan, be able and willing to communicate the plan more effectively to others, and be more willing and able to offer their continued support for the plan moving forward.
Summary of Results
Overall results of the study indicate that school district leaders shared information about strategic planning prior to beginning the process with their internal and external communities. Administrators, faculty, students, staff, and members of the community were encouraged to participate. Administrators and faculty believe their districts’ strategic planning process afforded them the opportunity to identify and/or redefine their missions, visions, goals, and objectives.
Generally, school district leadership monitors the strategic plan’s progress and reassesses the plan’s goals, objectives, and strategies. It is acknowledged that of the survey participants (faculty and administrators) who participated in strategic planning, a small percentage received training about PDE’s e-Strategic planning and reporting tool. Of those who received training, most needed additional training in order to successfully report their district’s data. While administrators and faculty who used the reporting tool believed that it provided the district with a complete template for the creation and submission of the strategic plan, most said that the tool is confusing, difficult to use, and discourages the user when entering and transmitting district data.
Strategic Planning Process Survey Themes//Responses
Faculty and staff informed prior to initiation of SP Process
Faculty and staff invited to Participate
Parents & community invited to Participate
SP Process provided opportunities to identify/redefine mission, visions, goals and objectives
SD allowed for transparency of the SP Process
e-Strategic Planning Tool Helpful
Need for further education/training
SP Process beneficial to School District
Plan Progress Monitoring is Evident in SD
Of the survey respondents who did not participate in the strategic planning process, most said they had not reviewed the plan, nor did they have access to the plan. Therefore, they were unaware of the plan’s content. Also, most non-participants believed that strategic planning had not changed or improved their district.
Finally, most administrators and faculty members believe the strategic planning process in their school district was very beneficial to the school community and they support their district’s efforts to implement the plan.
From the perspective of a former district superintendent and, at present, a university assistant professor charged with the task of training future school district administrators, researching and writing about this topic has been enlightening and challenging.
The enlightenment came as a result of reviewing the results of survey data provided by school district administrators and faculty. As stated previously, not all district faculty and administrators found the strategic planning process beneficial to the daily operation of their district - feeling that they were not kept informed regarding the process or how it would be implemented in the district.
The challenge that emerged was a realization of the need to identify key questions that should be addressed in order for a strategic planning process to become more beneficial to the individual school district and its community. Possible questions that might help to facilitate strategic planning are:
How can members of the educational community help to facilitate a greater understanding of the critical importance of the strategic planning process?
What additional training is needed for school district faculty and administrators to more successfully utilize the strategic planning process in the daily operation of their school districts?
How can district administrators more actively engage and support a greater constituency in strategic plan awareness, development, implementation, and evaluation?
Responses to questions such as these could help promote a successful strategic planning process by supporting the efforts of school district leaders in fully engaging all members of their internal and external communities. This vital work would also help school districts to meet the complex challenges of teaching and learning in the 21st century.
Barry, B.W. (2007). Strategic planning workbook for nonprofit organizations. Saint Paul,
MN: Fieldstone Alliance.
Bryson, J.M. (2004). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. San