Bozeman School Superintendent Kirk Miller's letter to the community (Monday, Nov. 27), nearly identical to the other two he has penned in the past year, focused entirely on process and said nothing concrete about what's actually happening in our schools. The essence of all three letters seems to be that as taxpayers and community members we should be proud of his planning process, the often referred to Long Range Strategic Plan, and go online and see how great it is. So I did.
Like many strategic plans inspired by the management guru of the moment, it's an underwhelming fill-in-the-blank template. To its credit, the plan captures lofty ambitions well, but stumbles in providing an actual road-map of how our schools are meeting specific, concrete, measurable goals - at least ones I could follow. With the exception of the new "balanced score-card," the plan and its status reports, like Dr. Miller's letters, are filled with jargon and platitudes.
Planning is important. We get that. But a tour of the posted plan suggests Dr. Miller confuses motion with action.
School districts across the nation are scrambling to develop plans to address looming budget shortfalls. Since 2008-09, a wave of federal education stimulus grants have filled state and local funding holes and put off the day when public school leaders must make truly hard choices. No longer. Most districts are debating and implementing comprehensive belt-tightening measures hoping they will be enough; a few are rethinking some of their basic assumptions including staffing and instructional models. I did not get any sense of this kind of debate from Dr. Miller's letter nor from my review of the plan. In his next letter to the community, we probably should.