“Shelley Sweet was recommended to me at a time when I was seeking professional assistance to lead the District in the development of a strategic plan. It was a fortunate meeting – with Shelley’s experience and guidance we were able to assemble a broad range of community members to form a design team. The team participated in a series of activities to assess, discuss, and develop the outcomes to create the classroom of the future. Under Shelley’s leadership, the design team was able to propose to the Board of Education, seven completed “initiatives” that would provide the course of action to realize the District’s vision.”

John Deasy
Superintendent of Schools (former)
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District


Case Study

How to Align and Energize Different Community Groups Around One Goal

 Industry: Education

The Situation
The S.M school district had a very supportive community but was divided into special interest groups. For several years the District Advisory Committee developed yearly plans and a budget which included requests for program dollars from each special interest group. These plans were never included in the academic plan. In fact the district did not have any overall school plan.

Ideas and Involvement
I worked with the Superintendent, Board of Education, and a diverse Design Team to complete a community driven strategic plan which developed a single common focus and seven specific initiatives covering curriculum, revenues, equity, preschool and after school, and the community as a resource. The community coalesced around the need for student achievement, providing fair access and success for all income, racial, and IQ capabilities. Before special interest groups fought for budget dollars and their particular programs; now all plans now flow into the seven initiatives to benefit students.

Implementation and Impact
The district implemented the initiatives. Training made immediate changes in the classroom, student voice and a new position addressed the achievement gaps for students, and the high school was restructured into 6 smaller schools. Later in the year, when tighter budget times followed, the Board of Education continued to make decisions and resource allocations based on priorities established by the plan and initiatives. One year after the strategic plan was completed, the district announced that test scores had shown dramatic gains. Overall English scores rose by 20 percent, African American students’ English scores rose by 40 percent, and Latinos’ score rose by 50 percent. The superintendent was ecstatic. He felt that the strategic plan was significant to the rise in scores, along with the redesign at the main high school, the community ownership of high achievement for all, and the work at the central office.

 For published material on this project, see Future Search In School District Change.


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