Strategic Planning for K-12 Districts

In the following report, Hanover Research provides information on strategic planning in K-12 public school districts. Specifically, this report focuses on the planning process and the desired outcomes of strategic plans. Four school districts of are profiled in more detail.


  • Common components of a K-12 strategic plan are the overall vision and mission, the goals of the plan and measurements for achieving the goals. Common components of the planning process are the timeline used during the planning process, the stakeholders involved, the composition of a planning or steering group, and the use of a specific strategic plan website to coordinate the sharing of information about the planning process and the strategic plan itself
  • The four school districts profiled in Section III each completed or plan to complete, the strategic planning process within a school or calendar year. This trend was consistently found in our research on strategic plans in K-12 schools.
  • K-12 strategic plans tend to involve common stakeholder groups in both the development and the implementation of the strategic plan. Key groups included are the district leadership (e.g., superintendent, governing board, and superintendent’s office staff), school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community members (e.g., local business owners and education experts).
  • Common teams associated with the strategic planning process are the planning team (or steering committee) and action teams. A planning team or steering committee is often the group in charge of the strategic planning process and of distributing responsibilities as needed. Planning and steering committees often create action groups to address specific needs within the planning process.
  • While some challenges that public school districts face during the strategic planning process and implementation are unique to the district, there are also common challenges in district strategic planning. These can include problems with communication or lack of community participation; a lack of vision, leadership, or sense of urgency; and structural problems related to staff capacity, funding, or entrenched cultural attitudes.

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