Every private, corporate, nonprofit or public company needs a vision to guide it, so pieces of the future can start coming together.
So says Ken Hein of Valley-based Hein Sight, the company hired by the Gilbert Unified School District to help it create a strategic plan for the future.
With it, the district can focus on education and competing in the growing market for students, Hein told the Tribune this week.
"From my prospective, echoed by people who have taken the time to do strategic planning, it's more an investment than an expense," Hein said.
The district and Hein have a $90,000, one-year contract, plus $10,000 for expenses. Hein said he plans to bring in national experts, including one who spent four years as director of strategic planning for the school district in Atlanta. There is an optional one-year extension.
The process starts Thursday when the core committee - members of the district's staff, the Gilbert business community, and school constituents - gather for an introduction of what they've agreed to take on over the next 12 months. The public is invited to watch the meetings. Public comment will not be during this meeting, but at various times during the process, Hein said.
The 11-member core group includes Superintendent Dave Allison. Other members are: Sharon Orr, an administrative assistant in the district; Barb Dwyer, president of the district's Volunteer Network and a substitute teacher; board member E.J. Anderson; parent Jason Barney; Patterson Elementary School principal Nonda Chomokos; Diane Drazinski, Gilbert Education Association president; Maria Hesse, vice provost at Arizona State University; former board member and business owner Adelaida Severson; Gilbert Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Kathy Tilque; and one unfilled position.
Together, they will examine data being gathered about student enrollment, growth patterns in the district and more. As specific areas come up that may need deeper analysis, Hein said there will be other groups formed from the community to look at those.
The core group will create a plan that will ultimately have to be adopted by the governing board, he said.
Gilbert Unified, like many other districts in the state, is at a crossroads, Hein said. The district is expecting its first student-loss next school year, with 300 fewer students projected. It's also expecting as much as a $4 million budget loss from the state.
Dwyer said she is looking forward to creating a plan to help the district base future decisions.
"So instead of always being in crisis management, you have a clear direction, so when the budget issues come up that come up every year, you're going to make a decision based upon where you want to go," she said.
Neighboring Mesa Unified School District is in the middle of its strategic planning process, started two years ago.
The district hired Partnership for Excellence Inc. to facilitate process, with a potential five-year contract. The first year the district paid $121,321. The second year, the district paid $63,158. The current-year contract is for $63,158.