Brunswick board advances strategic plan for schools

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BRUNSWICK — The School Board is moving forward with plans to commission a long-range strategic plan.

The board is seeking requests for proposals from consulting firms to create a five-year plan for the School Department that will describe where the schools are today, document where various stakeholders would like to go in the future, and provide ways to measure progress towards those goals.

Board member Michele Joyce on Wednesday said the plan would give the public an opportunity to share their priorities.

“If we’re going to look at things like … single gender classes, or any magnet school possibilities, if we don’t get some buy in or feedback from the public, then we’re not going to know if that’s something that parents value,” Joyce said.

Chairman Corinne Perreault said she hoped that highlighting the community’s priorities would help influence budget discussions. She said every year the board asks itself what to spend money on, and the answer is usually dictated by how much money is available.

But member Michelle Small wondered how much the plan could accomplish, given that the board only has $25,000 to spend on a consultant.

“I don’t think we can get this much work for $25,000,” Small said.

Other members acknowledged that they may need to spend more on the plan in upcoming years.

Member Janet Connors was skeptical of the entire process.

“I just want everyone to understand that the town of Brunswick has in fact spent an exorbitant amount of money and time to create exactly what we’re talking about here tonight … and nobody pays any attention to it,” Connors said.

She also suggested future boards would disregard the plan.

But member Matt Corey said that is why the plan is necessary.

“We are a very fluid organization and the people at this level change very often, and I think it’s important to have a road map going forwards,” Corey said.

“Strategic planning is messy, it’s not perfect,” said board member Brenda Clough, as discussion was winding down. “If we as a School Board have the discipline to keep coming back to the plan, then the process becomes a good planning tool.”

The board ultimately voted 8-1, with Small opposed, to authorize a request for proposals.

In other business, the board voted to hire Harriman, an architecture and engineering firm with offices in Auburn and Portland, to conduct a study of school facilities, including the temporarily closed Jordan Acres Elementary School and the former Times Record building on Industry Road.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski said he hopes to have the findings by the end of the year.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.