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September 25, 2008





SEPTEMBER 25, 2008




The Community Relations and Long-Range Planning Committee of the Board of Education of Rich Township High School District 227 met on Thursday, September 25, 2008, in the Training Room at the District Administrative Center, Olympia Fields, Illinois.


Mr. Imoukhuede called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.


Present: Imoukhuede (Chair), Owens (Member), Norwood (Member), Moten, Brookins, Upshaw


Also Present: Mr. Hunigan, Mrs. Treichel, Ms. Dumas



Mr. Hunigan made a call to Dr. Feddema from Cambridge Strategic Services.  Dr. Feddema went over Cambridge Strategic Services concept of Strategic Planning.  He noted he had been involved with the Cambridge Group for 20 years, doing Strategic Planning for public schools.  Cambridge Strategic Services feels it is important for teachers, parents, community leaders, board members and administrators to be involved in the process. 


Dr. Feddema noted that he begins with an initial group of 25 – 30 individuals.  Student focus and student achievement drive the process.  Each strategy has an action team.  The planning team is chosen carefully.  During 3 days, 37 hours are devoted to training. 


Dr. Feddema stated that the action planning takes approximately 3 l/2 months.  It would be finished by the end of the school year.


A question  was asked about the number on the training team.  Dr. Feddema responded that the first session involves one outside person.  Sometimes someone different is brought in to do the action plans or work with the administrative staff.  The major person would be in the district 5 – 7 times.  Asked about the price, Dr. Feddema stated it would be in the high $30,000 range, plus expenses. 


Asked about references, Dr. Feddema stated he was working with the Oswego School District, which is a large, growing district, and he was sure the district would give a reference in addition to the references listed in the packet.



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Mr. Imoukhuede thanked Dr. Feddema on behalf of the Board.  Mr. Hunigan stated he would keep in contact and let him know how the process is progressing.


At 6:45 p.m. Dr. Lou Gatta from ECRA Group arrived.  Dr. Gatta noted that ECRA Group was founded in research 30 years ago.  The Group works very closely with ACT on projects. Dr. Gatta noted that the fact that ECRA uses sound research puts them a step ahead of other companies.  In addition, Dr. Gatta noted that ECRA Group has all the records of School District 227’s previous strategic plan.  He noted that ECRA Group works with Homewood-Flossmoor High school every year in an extensive assessment program.  The Group just finished working with the Hinsdale District and the Elmhurst District. 


Mrs. Upshaw asked about the type of research used.  Dr. Gatta responded that they use feedback from staff and community members and also hard data.  Strategic planning is action.  It brings in all stakeholders.  He noted that most strategies fail not in design but in implementation. 


Mrs. Moten asked about working with the elementary districts that feed into the high school district.  Dr. Gatta noted that they have worked with unit districts.  Independent elementary and high school districts have to be willing to come together and accept a combined plan.  The company has been able to work with districts in curriculum strategies.  He noted they have worked with Glenbrook and its feeder districts to develop strategies. 


Mr. Imoukhuede asked how long the process takes.


Mr. Gatta responded that there is a three-phase strategic process followed.  The first phase is a collection of the data.  ECRA would work with the Steering Committee.  Next comes analysis of data, and then implementation of the plan.  The comprehensive plan would be in order if District 227 can afford it. 


Mrs. Owens asked about the staff from ECRA.  Dr. Gatta responded they would have around 20 people working with the District – experts in many areas. 


Mrs. Norwood stated that, when ECRA worked with District 159, she was impressed with the caliber of the people used by the company. 


Mrs. Owens mentioned that the implementation plan is optional.


Dr. Gatta stated he would love for his company to be involved in the implementation plan.

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Mrs. Brookins asked about an expert in vocational education.


Dr. Gatta noted that their company touched briefly on electives in the past.


Mrs. Upshaw asked who owns the data.


Dr. Gatta responded that the data is the District’s.  If people are asked to comment, that data is not given to the District but an analysis of the data is given to the District. 


Mrs. Upshaw noted that the shelf life of a Strategic Plan can vary.  She wanted to know how Dr. Gatta’s company manages research data so it stays recent.


Dr. Gatta noted that his company will provide District 227 with the ability to find out whether things are moving well or not moving well in the District.  The District is preparing students to be comfortable in a state of constant change. 


Mrs. Brookins added that education is one arena that moves slowly.


Dr. Gatta went over the price for the process.  Proposal II of the comprehensive plan, Phase I and Phase II, would be a total cost of $70,000.  Phase III, the Implementation Plan, would be an additional $13,000.  Proposal I would cost $38,000, plus $13,00 for the implementation.  Proposal II is much more comprehensive and includes a longitudinal analysis of student achievement data and a curriculum and instruction audit.


Mr. Imoukhuede recognized Ms. Zonn Pickins Dumas, a community member.  Ms. Dumas stated she was a member of the focus groups for the previous strategic plan but she didn’t receive a follow up.  She noted it was important to incorporate in the survey what students say. 


Dr. Gatta stated that data-based decision making is horrible.  Information-based decision making is wonderful. 


Mr. Imoukhuede thanked Dr. Gatta for the presentation.  He noted the District will reflect on it.  He asked about the timeline for the Strategic Plan.  Dr. Gatta responded that it could be completed by the end of April.  That would give the District enough time to plan for the coming year.


At 7:40 p.m. Dr. Gatta left the meeting.




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The board members discussed the two companies.  After discussion, a preliminary vote noted that the board members present would recommend ECRA for the District’s Strategic Planning. 


Mr. Hunigan asked for the authority to go back to Dr. Gatta and negotiate the price.  He stated he believes a longer term partnership with Dr. Gatta is the way to go.


Mrs. Moten again stated that the District needs to work with its foundation schools.  The District is spending a lot of time making up that gap between when the students graduate from the foundation schools and enter the high schools.


Mrs. Owens noted that a district can invite the foundation schools to participate, but they make their own decision. 


Mr. Imoukhuede noted that our District should at least talk to the foundation districts.


Mrs. Owens stated the Board should leave that decision to the Superintendent and the Strategic Planning firm.


All Board members present stated they would recommend Dr. Gatta’s firm for the Strategic Planning process, and it will be on the agenda for the October Board meeting.


At 8:01 p.m. Mr. Imoukhuede adjourned the meeting.