K&J – Lake Placid Central School Board Facilitates Strategic Plan

The Lake Placid Central School Board is in the midst of developing a new long term strategic plan with the help of a 40 member advisory group led by Bill Rusak who himself has 40 years of combined experience as a union representative, Human Resources Executive, Consultant, Business Owner and Corporate Executive with businesses including Firestone, Racemark International, and Dominion Textile among others..

Mr Rusak has business and legal degrees from Wharton and LaSalle Universities.. He is a member of the American Arbitration Association, the American Bar Association’s Association for Conflict Resolution, the Labor and Employment Research Association and a member of the board at the Center for Conflict Dynamics and is a regular consultant for Coca Cola, Snap On Tools, Volvo, The Hospital Corporation of America and others, now including the Lake Placid Central School District…   Mr Rusak was born in Europe, grew up in Montreal and is conveniently a long time resident of Lake Placid..  Before he spoke about the progress of the research, I asked him for his thoughts on the differences between Lake Placid, France and Montreal..

010814 - Lake Placid Central School - Strategic Planning with Consultant Bill Rusak

And over the last several months, Bill has in fact become an expert on those opportunities.. Working with 7 stakeholder groups including teachers and staff in all three buildings, business and community leaders and as Lake Placid Central School Superintendent Roger Catania is keen to remind me… Parents and Students are also very involved..

K&J – 010814 – Lake Placid School Board Strategic Planning

Catania spoke to a group of stakeholders at a special meeting in the Lake Placid Middle High School Library Media Room.. During this process, his goal has been to develop a real understanding of Student s in Lake Placid.. Those numbers include the total number of students in the district… 668 by the way..

The attendance rate, perceived alcohol use, and the overall number of teachers and staff.. That number breaks down to 74 teachers.. All but 8 are in tenured positions.. 24 teaching assistants, 15 professional staff, and 36 members of the staff in supporting roles such as the cafeteria, buildings and grounds, transportation and other roles..  In addition to hard numbers, Catania also says understanding perspectives and how people view different aspects of the school system will go a long way towards developing their plan..

One of the other concepts Superintendent Catania spoke of at this meeting is the importance of understanding one’s surroundings on an environmental scale.. not necessarily trees and schrubs, but more in terms of Class size, discipline, positive behaviors and others..

One impact on students and faculty,  which the Superintendent might not mention is that the new administrative team, including the building principals bring with them a new approach to learning and a new approach to administration which, while still focused on the state’s guidelines, has proven to be a positive influence on a majority of students, an staff which then by it’s very nature, provides for longer term care and nurturing and a more focused look at priorities and goals.. as opposed to the controversy which used to plague the school under the previous administration…. So back to the presentation now – in the Middle High School Library… Board President Mary Deitrich is introducing Mr Rusak and explains the next step in the process..

So.. What are the School’s Strengths? How about internal Weaknesses? And are there any opportunities? Threats? And what are the most important things that must be addressed in the next two years?  Those are the questions Bill asked during the focus group sessions with Stakeholders…

Keep in mind.. and it’s important to remember the perspective of many of Mr Rusak’s comments on perceived weaknesses in the system.. The Stakeholder Groups have been very open about verbalizing as many of the issues that might arise as possible… and come Saturday, the School Board in Lake Placid will begin to talk in depth about these issues and to identify some of the items which rise to the surface..

If you think about how you perceive strengths and weaknesses for yourself, there are usually going to be more weaknesses than strengths.. which for the most part is a good thing.. Rusak says people are usually looking to help with improvement and will typically identify opportunities to make things better by picking out weaknesses but in addition, there are Strengths, Threats and Opportunities which will be considered as a result of the focus groups..

So what’s next now that Stakeholders and Focus Groups have identified Weaknesses, Strengths, Threats and Opportunities?  The Board on Saturday will begin to assess and prioritize input for relevance and to categorize and consider assigning weight and importance to each item highlighted by Stakeholders during the initial phase of the project..  

The Lake Placid Central School Mission is where it all begins.. “As Part of a unique Adirondack community, the Lake Placid Central School provides a welcoming, stimulating environment that inspires all students to achieve their academic, physical and social potential and to thrive in a dynamic global society..”

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