Wednesday, July 20, 2016

So about this Worcester Public Schools strategic plan: some questions

Today's article on the Worcester Public Schools' possible strategic plan is revealing. Read the responses of (what certainly seemed like the) two major partners in this efforts to Superintendent Binienda's announcement that the plan is to hire Robert Antonucci:
But Ms. Davis Carey said she has only had one conversation with school officials about the plan so far, and described the project as being “really in the embryonic stage.” She added she didn’t have a lot to say as of Tuesday about the direction of the effort that Ms. Binienda laid out last week, including the choice to hire Mr. Antonucci as a consultant.
Timothy McGourthy, executive director or research bureau, also said he wasn’t sure about the level of interaction so far with Mr. Antonucci, but said he supported the possible selection of the former commissioner. Like the WEC, he said he also anticipates the research bureau will continue to be involved in the development of the strategic plan if given the opportunity.
The clear impression given at the meeting was that there had been some sort of ongoing conversations with those who had suggested the plan in the first place. It appears that isn't the case.
So who suggested Mr. Antonucci? Who has been having these meetings? And where did the estimate on cost come from? Who is it that's going to be doing the fundraising to cover this cost?
The cost, note, puts us into the realm of sealed competitive bids, if this is going to be a contract with the school department. But is it?
A strategic plan falls into the realm of the school committee, which gave its (conditional and "needing more information) assent last week. If there's a committee set up to create the strategic plan, they'll be advising the school committee on something under their purview, which makes them subject to the open meeting law (they fall under the definition of "public body").

None of the above is to say that a strategic plan is a bad idea. And having it public sooner rather than later is good. This does, though, seem to have a lot of open questions at this point.

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