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New system aligns school strategy, goals
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During a community forum Thursday, the Liberty County Board of Education discussed major changes in the way the district will plan and organize long-term goals for upcoming school years.
Former Fulton County Superintendent Mike Vanairsdale talked with BoE members about using the Balanced Scorecard system as a tool to help administrators and officials efficiently create plans. The scorecard is not a report card for students, but rather for the school district, Vanairsdale said. It is designed to monitor the school system’s performance against strategic goals.
In his PowerPoint presentation, he spoke of the resource as a business strategy. “It is a tool that translates the organizational mission and vision,” the former superintendent said.
A handful of parents, teachers and administrators joined BoE members at the meeting and listened to Vanairsdale talk about his experience with jump-starting Fulton County’s planning changes years ago.
“It is to improve performance across the boards,” he said of implementing the scorecard system. “It’s what drives the organization’s core focus.”
The scorecard plan also would include an organizational strategy map, which would serve as a visual aid to chart the school district’s mission and goals, creating a clear course, Vanairsdale said.
Liberty County officially began to make planning and organizational changes last year and continued over the summer to work toward implementing the full Balanced Scorecard method, said Sandy Jones, director of curriculum and professional learning.
Regarding usage of the scorecard by other Georgia schools, Vanairsdale said he’s almost certain about 50 to 60 percent of the state’s school systems have the system in place to track progress.
According to a 2007 Education Week article, the Balanced Scorecard system was developed by Harvard Professor Robert S. Kaplan and a business consultant, David P. Norton, in the early 1990s. 
According to the article, “proponents of balanced scorecards say what makes them effective is what happens before the and after they’re instituted. Many districts start by updating their school improvement plans, and then figuring out how to break them down into measurable goals.”
BoE member Carol Guyett said she is grateful for the information distributed Thursday, but would like to see Liberty County’s data charted using the model instead of sample data and scorecards, which would provide a better understanding of how the system works.
“To look at somebody else’s information is irrelevant,” she said. 
Jones said teachers, staff and administrators will continue to learn about the process as the district sets goals for Liberty County schools.
“We hope to have baseline data on our first district-wide Balanced Scorecard by January.  At this point, we are still meeting as strategic teams to make decisions and to clarify data pieces,” Jones said. “We will be able to add some comparison data to our system Balanced Scorecard in the 2011-12 school year.” 
Vanairsdale thinks of it as an evolving process. “It is never ending,” he said. “It’s a journey.”
BoE member Verdell Jones agreed the changes likely would have a positive impact.
“I think this is an excellent tool. Hopefully it will make us get better,” Jones said. “This is something we get to look at all the time. We shouldn’t run away from accountability.”
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