District 44 setting new course under 'all in this together' philosophy
Come April, school board members in Lombard Elementary District 44 should have before them a new strategic plan that will be an all-hands-on-deck document following Superintendent Ted Stec's philosophy of "we are all in this together."
Stec and the team of four new administrators he hired this July are beginning a strategic planning process that aims to spell out how the district will operate and what its goals and direction will be for five years, beginning next fall.
Stec said the process will assimilate the conversations he's had with leaders of schools and civic groups since becoming the district's CEO about a year ago, then completing his superintendent's endorsement and becoming superintendent. Those conversations have indicated a unified approach is best.
"We need all hands on deck to really educate our children, provide the best environment for them," Stec said Thursday. "We need everyone on the same page because we have very important jobs. We're educating our kids, and we're all in this together."
The strategic planning process, dubbed Connect 44, involves five meetings of a leadership team of 44 people who will address macro-level topics about the district and its future, said Jenn Nimke, director of communications and strategic planning and one of the new administrators. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 19.
The team involves two school board members, Stec and his four top administrators, a few community members, two union representatives and four people representing each of the district's eight schools, which teach kids from early childhood through eighth grade. School representatives include the principal, a teacher, an instructional assistant and another professional who doesn't work in a classroom, such as a speech-language pathologist.
"A huge value in that is that we have multiple representatives from all of our different stakeholder groups," Nimke said, creating strong community engagement throughout the planning process. "For us, we feel like we have all of those people at the table driving the work from the very beginning."
The leadership team first will consider the guiding question "Where are we now?" Future questions for the other four meetings are, "How do we get from where we currently are to where we want to be?" "How do we know we are successful?" "Does the plan represent our district's future direction?" And "What's next?"
Meetings are scheduled monthly, concluding Jan. 31, and dates are listed on the district's website under the communications and strategic planning department. Community members and parents can complete a survey to help guide the process until 5 p.m. Friday, also available on the district website.
The goal overall is to have everyone in the district "live and breathe" the new direction set by the plan, Stec said.
"If we can provide meaning and a direction and a vision for people," Stec said, "I just feel they're going to be that much better in helping our kids."