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Moving Ahead

CHESAPEAKE — The newly formed Chesapeake Core Planning Team took a step closer to coming up with a strategic plan for the eastern end school district.

Meeting for the first time as an ensemble at Ohio University Proctorville Center Thursday morning, the 30 members heard Dr. Steven Barone, of Transformation Systems, Inc., outline what is expected of them in the next month.

Their goal is to determine the core values they want the district’s educational plan to promote. Getting there means every aspect of the plan must have 100 percent consensus. That will translate into long days for the committee as it comes up with the plan by a Nov. 30 deadline, Barone said.

For their work to succeed the team must support all aspects of the strategic plan publicly and privately with their words and actions, the Syracuse, N.Y.-based education coach told the group.

“That is the most powerful thing you can do to implement this plan,” Barone said.

“These are goals that stay out there for a long time. It gets embedded in you. It won’t leave you, like a tattoo.”

About a year ago, an outside group was invited to analyze the Chesapeake school system — its accomplishments and deficiencies. Developing a formal strategic plan was one of the analysts’ recommendations.

That led to the creation of the core team, made up of school staff, community members and students.

“I see a lot of value to this, especially to the students. We need something to base our learning on,” Ashley Jenkins, a Chesapeake High junior who is on the team, said after the work session. “I think it is a great step forward for all of us. Where there is room for improvement and this is a step forward.”

Barone, a former deputy school superintendent from upstate New York, found he was getting frustrated with what he called his inability to help the school district stay focused on anything that made a difference. That’s when the concept of strategic planning was suggested to him as a means out of his dilemma.

“I was like the student who was ready,” he said.

He took that avenue and developed it into a three-person consulting firm that now operates in 35 countries. Since 1990, when he started Transformation Systems, he has provided planning input to 300 organizations, 80 percent of which have been for school systems.

Financing this project has come entirely from federal and foundation grants, Dr. Scott Howard, Chesapeake superintendent told the session.

“No local tax dollars are being spent on this planning,” he said.

Denise Reynolds, one of the community representatives, has a son who will graduate from Chesapeake in the spring. Since her older child graduated in an earlier class, she admits she won’t reap the immediate benefits of the project. However, she looks at it as something that will help her future grandchildren.

“This is the first time I’ve been involved in a school system strategic plan,” she said. “I am excited to be in at the beginning. I wish we would have done this years ago.”