Strategic Directions | Proposed by Board of Directors 10/22/2013, Adopted 12/13/2013
The North Carolina Association of School Administrators Board of Directors participated in a retreat October 22, 2013 to review how the organization has grown and improved since its formation in 1976, its current status in supporting school administrators and next steps to strengthen the organization for the future. During this day-long retreat, board members examined the organization’s work in communications; advocacy; professional development; membership services, recruitment and retention; and finance and administration. The recommendations that emerged outline the strategic directions that NCASA must take to become the high-quality support system that school administrators need and deserve by being responsive to them in providing services in communications, advocacy, and professional development to support and enhance their leadership, while working with them to move North Carolina public schools to the next level. Recommendations for specific actions needed for enhancement in each of the organization’s key areas of focus are delineated in the strategic plan that follows, which was formally adopted by the NCASA Board of Directors at its December 13, 2013 meeting in Raleigh.
VISION, MISSION AND GOALS
The NCASA Board of Directors believes that the organization’s vision, mission and goals are critical for identifying the organization as a pillar of support for strong and effective public schools and reflecting the views of 7,000 school administrator members from all facets of administration. In addition NCASA’s image, portrayed through its logo and its foundation statements – vision, mission and goals – must be perceived in a positive manner by both internal and external audiences. To enhance this image and strengthen the organization, the Board of Directors recommends the following:
• Update the NCASA logo that appears dated and bland.
• Identify a vision statement for the organization, which now does not have one.
• Update the NCASA mission statement – “To ensure quality learning experiences for all students through visionary and effective leadership” – to determine if changes are needed to ensure it has the right focus.
• Determine if the tag line now presented with the logo – “Supporting Excellence in Leadership” – should be revised to better align with the vision and mission statements.
• Review the goals of the organization to ensure consistency and cohesiveness with the other foundation statements of NCASA. The current goals that have been informally incorporated into NCASA Legislative Platform documents include:
– “Provide all members an opportunity to grow professionally and work together to strengthen K-12 public education.”
– “Provide a unified voice for school administrators on issues affecting the funding and daily operations of public schools.”
• Identify colors and other design effects that will work in concert with the logo to convey a positive branded image for the organization as it communicates with internal and external audiences.
• Transition the NCASA website to reflect the organization’s new branded image by the July 1, 2014 beginning of the new fiscal year.
• Ask the Communications Group from the October 22, 2013 Board Retreat to pull in additional creative thinkers as needed to recommend next steps to accomplish each of these objectives through a comprehensive rebranding process to be unveiled at NCASA’s 2014 Conference on Educational Leadership, if feasible. Mr. Tim Lussier of Moore County Schools will lead this effort, and assistance from an outside design agency will be considered.
Providing school administrators with timely and relevant information in an easily digestible format is critical to the mission and goals of NCASA and is one of the most important services provided to members. Effective communication with external audiences – that include the General Assembly and other elected and appointed policymakers, the media and the public – is equally important. To facilitate effective communications with both internal and external audiences, the NCASA Board of Directors believes that the organization should undertake a rebranding process, as outlined elsewhere in this strategic plan. In addition, a comprehensive review and update of NCASA’s communications efforts should be undertaken to ensure user friendliness, relevance and timeliness. Specific directives that NCASA must undertake to enhance its communications efforts include the following:
• Ensure that the rebranding process includes identity communications about the organization – including who makes up the Board of Directors and how the affiliates interact with NCASA -- to help members understand the organization’s structure as an umbrella unifying 11 facets of school administration for the betterment of public schools.
• Enhance the organization’s social media presence through the following:
– Create standard operating procedures for NCASA’s usage of all social media to ensure that staff, board members, and others who contribute to communications through these vehicles are aware of the resources and proper usage guidelines.
– Expand usage of Twitter by creating a hashtag for NCASA communications and following appropriate Twitter accounts.
– Establish Facebook and Linked In accounts for NCASA to share information, while continuing to expand communication efforts through Twitter.
– Determine the feasibility of launching a mobile application that members can download for receiving real time “push notifications” from the organization.
• Determine ways to implement video in communications efforts.
• Increase the contributors to NCASA communications by involving the NCASA President, other members of the Board of Directors, and the Executive Directors of NCASA core affiliates – the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association and the North Carolina Principals & Assistant Principals’ Association.
• Transform the NCASA website to reflect the outcomes of the rebranding process as well as the following:
– Determine which information needs to be password protected and make more information available to the public to help promote NCASA’s positive identity. (Example; the NCASA Legislative Platform should be public, but updates and issue talking points and other resources should be accessible only by members.)
– Add a segment to help individuals determine if they are members and options that are available for becoming members.
– Add more good news on the website, including listing the association’s award winners, and do not limit the website to information items only.
• Revamp NCASA email communications as follows:
– Consolidate three current e-newsletters – In the Know, School Administrator News in Review, and Legislative Link – into one, if feasible, to minimize the number of email contacts being made with members each week.
– Revise the format of the e-newsletter(s) to attach as a PDF to send to members by email or makw completely web-based to make linking to additional resources easier and more accessible for members to use.
– Coordinate with NCASA core affiliates to set an email schedule that ensures multiple emails are not being sent to members on the same day.
One of the most important services that NCASA has provided and must continue to provide to its member school administrators, and to public education in general, is to serve as an effective advocate on their behalf in the public policy arena that impacts the funding and daily operations of the state’s Pre-K-12 education system. To do this, NCASA must remain non-partisan and find ways to work with elected officials at the federal, state and local levels of government as well as with other decision-making entities that include, but are not limited to, the State Board of Education, the State Health Plan, and the Teachers and State Employees’ Retirement System. Specific directives that NCASA must undertake in its advocacy efforts include the following:
• Ensure that all advocacy efforts undertaken by NCASA hold true to the organization’s vision, mission and goals by making positive outcomes for public school students the main priority.
• Identify the organization’s member school administrators as “subject matter experts” who are crucial participants in all public policy conversations about what should or should not occur in public schools across the state.
• Distinguish NCASA as an organization not satisfied with the status quo but dedicated to transforming public education to better meet the needs of all students.
• Build upon NCASA’s current reputation among public policy leaders as a rational and non-partisan sounding board that should be consulted in all public education issues.
• Collaborate, when practicable, with other education organizations that share the same goals for strong and effective public schools, but separate NCASA from any collaboration that public policy leaders would view as partisan or offensive and that would be counter-productive to ensuring positive outcomes for public school students.
• Engage in positive communications with public policy leaders that is cognizant of the tone and messages that are essential for obtaining positive outcomes for public school students.
• Be mindful that innovation for positive outcomes for students may differ from the majority opinion among school administrators and that the minority opinion has an important place in issue discussions affecting public education.
• Enlist retired school administrators who are committed to NCASA’s vision, mission and goals to help with the organization’s advocacy efforts.
• Increase collaboration among the affiliated groups under NCASA’s umbrella for a more unified voice in advocacy efforts aimed at strengthening and enhancing public schools and ensuring positive outcomes for students.
Providing school administrators from all facets of Pre-K-12 educational service with high quality training opportunities that enable them to master best practices on new trends and techniques and stay current on laws, policies and requirements they must implement is another important service for NCASA to provide. To do this, NCASA must complement the professional development offerings being provided to various segments of its membership by its affiliated organizations and provide timely and relevant training opportunities that hold appeal for a wide array of school administrators. The ultimate goal of these professional development opportunities is to offer NCASA members with the training they need to provide visionary and effective leadership in public schools as well as to generate some revenue to offset the operational costs of the organization. To accomplish these goals, NCASA must undertake the following specific objectives:
• Survey members to ask for topic-specific sessions to offer and to determine desired format, whether half day, full day, webinars, etc., and in what locations.
• Coordinate training opportunities with affiliates by maintaining a comprehensive calendar for professional development that is available on the NCASA website.
• Develop and implement NCASA signature training opportunities that appeal to a varied audience of school administrators, such as the Conference on Educational Leadership and the School Law Symposium, that feature topics relevant to all administrators, such as advocacy, branding, networking, communication, facilitative leadership and development of soft skills that are essential in all leadership roles.
• Add more refined training such as "drive-ins" for affiliate groups rather than an "institute" or cohort training that is better suited to various niche groups in NCASA’s affiliates.
To enable NCASA to serve school administrators in the key focus areas of communications, advocacy and professional development, the organization almost must effectively recruit and retain members who want and need those services and are willing to pay a fee to have access to them. Membership is the life blood of the organization, and NCASA must have appropriate procedures in place to ensure membership is ongoing by school districts and individuals, who ultimately are the organization’s identity and reason for existence. To ensure a viable membership recruitment and retention process for NCASA, the following specific directives should be undertaken:
• Enhance communications about the content of member benefits and the options available for obtaining as an individual or through a school district.
• Identify a means for identifying school administrator members who are retiring and reach out to them before they leave their jobs to encourage them to stay connected with NCASA through a retiree membership. This retiree recruitment must be supported through enhanced retention efforts that should include events geared specifically toward retirees, such as a meeting at the Conference on Educational Leadership and options for involvement in NCASA advocacy efforts.
• Enhance efforts to reach non-member administrators, including those in districts that are not NCASA unit members, through email and in-person presentations about the benefits of individual memberships with NCASA. This contact should be work group specific, such as emails to all principals in a non-unit district, as well as targeted to individuals who register for NCASA conferences and events as non-members.
• Develop a professional development package that includes membership.
• Enhance working relationships with Schools of Education to encourage more student memberships that foster earlier connection with and support of NCASA.
• Determine the feasibility of initiating new unit membership options for administrators connected to public schools but not employed by school districts, including but not limited to the Department of Public Instruction and charter schools.
• Send an NCASA spokesman to orientation sessions for new administrators when feasible to discuss member benefits and promote the organization.
• Enhance member services, which help with recruitment and retention, by the following:
– Develop a repository of best practices and how-to guides that members may access on the NCASA website for professional development.
– Explore the feasibility of adding a discount buying program that allows members to purchase desirable goods and services at reduced rates offered only to NCASA members.
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
The quality of services offered to NCASA members depends in large part upon a dedicated and competent staff that effectively implements the policies, procedures and wishes of the Board of Directors, while maintaining the financial integrity and viability of the organization. To enhance the internal operations of NCASA, the following specific directives should be undertaken:
• Develop a plan for enhancing individual memberships to ensure financial stability and viability in the event that school districts are precluded from purchasing unit memberships in the future.
• Revise the NCASA budget to show that lobbying expenditures for the organization can be covered entirely by revenues the organization receives through sources other than individual membership dues or unit memberships purchased by school districts.
• Identify a new office location to rent or lease in the Raleigh area that is more conducive to the organization’s needs and includes adequate parking for staff and guests and offers a larger conference room to accommodate board meetings for NCASA and its core affiliates.
• Update the NCASA Bylaws to include the mission and vision statements being developed in the rebranding process as well as to implement recommendations from the organization’s attorney on the process for new board member approval and other changes that would strengthen the operating guidelines of NCASA.
• Study compensation and benefits of the NCASA staff in comparison to other non-profit member-service organizations in the state and make recommendations for changes that would ensure competitive packages for employment that allow NCASA to recruit and retain highly qualified staff. Dr. Barbara Armstrong of Thomasville City Schools will lead this study and will identify other members to assist with this effort.
• Maintain NCASA’s relatively new Corporate Partnership program in its current format for another year or more, while obtaining feedback from the corporate members on what, if any, changes are needed.
• Review NCASA’s legal consultation services for members to determine what, if any, changes are needed.
• Add an issues session with guest presenters, when feasible, for NCASA Board of Directors meetings.
This strategic plan reflects the objectives that the NCASA Board of Directors believes are important for moving the organization forward as it works to support and enhance public education in North Carolinas. This plan has been developed to guide the NCASA Executive Director and other staff members in next steps for the organization to ensure it maintains its member focus while delivering the services in communications, advocacy and professional development that school administrators across the state need and deserve. The NCASA Board of Directors periodically will review this strategic plan to determine the status of objectives and directives contained herein and to update the plan as needed to ensure the continued growth and viability of this organization as it strives to serve the state’s school administrators by enabling them to become the visionary leaders who are ensuring student success.