AUGUSTA — School officials are looking for a consultant from outside the school system to oversee a strategic planning process to improve and guide the city’s schools over the next five to 10 years.

It has been about 15 years since Augusta last put together a long-term strategic plan for its schools, according to Kimberly Martin, chairwoman of the school board. She said plenty of things have changed since then, from federal mandates to technology. Board members agreed in a goal-setting session earlier this year that it is time to take a big-picture look at the state of the school system, where it is headed, where it should be and how to get there, she said.

“Our overall goal is to have a long-term plan, to know where we’re going and be more efficient in what we’re doing,” Martin said. “I think it’s an exciting opportunity for everyone to get connected with the school department and be involved in where we are going the next few years.”

The request for proposals recently issued by the school department notes officials are looking for an individual or group with experience working with educational entities and able to work with local officials and community members to study the school system’s “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and environment.”

Martin and Superintendent James Anastasio said having a person from outside the school system can help provide a fresh look at things.

“Everybody involved is passionate about our schools and programs,” Martin said. “But we may not see all the possibilities because we’re involved in it every day. We want someone who can help us take a long-term look at all the possibilities.”

In addition to the proposal to hire a consultant, the process would also be overseen by a to-be-created new Strategic Planning Workgroup. Anastasio said the membership of that proposed group has not yet been determined.

The bulk of the work on the plan would take place next school year.

Anastasio said the school board wanted to get proposals this year, however, so officials will know how much developing the plan is likely to cost, so they can consider putting funding for it in next year’s proposed budget. Anastasio said there is no money in the current year’s budget for the study or plan.

He said it is possible school officials could decide not to do the study once they see the proposals and their cost. The request for proposals specifically gives the school system the right to reject any or all submissions and to request amended proposals.

Martin said the plan could include information on what to do with the school system’s buildings, how to structure programming and how to deal with funding issues.

The resulting plan would guide the board in setting their yearly goals and provide a foundation for school operations, officials said.

Anastasio and Martin said the process of creating the plan is sure to include opportunities for public input.

The request for proposals notes the school board “seeks to create a plan based upon a shared community vision, developed with multi-stakeholder input that reflects the mission and vision of the board and the realities of the district’s current and future operational environments.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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