Nov 112017

Lusher Charter School. (Robert Morris,

Lusher Charter School is beginning the process of creating a new five-year plan to govern its future growth, board members and administrators said Saturday morning.

The effort to create the new strategic plan will be led by Sheila Nelson, who for years was principal of the Lusher Willow Street campus but has recently moved into the administration to focus on long-term planning.

Nelson said she has already conducted her own research on how the process should proceed, but she would recommend forming a “steering committee” of administrators and board members to determine how to craft the strategic plan. For example, the committee will determine whether an outside consultant is needed to guide the process.

The committee will also determine the level of specificity that a five-year plan should have, whether it should seek to establish specific objectives and deadlines for achieving them, or whether it should lay out a more general framework for growth.

One likely aspect of the strategic plan is the future of Lusher’s leadership. CEO Kathy Riedlinger has been at Lusher for 35 years now, since 1982, and while she has not announced any intention to retire, the school has no process in place for choosing a new leader.

Board member Gary Solomon Sr. volunteered for the committee, saying he has had experience working with a similar effort at other schools in the past.

“Even I as a board member would love to know what our plans are for the future,” Solomon said.

Nelson said that the Lusher staff has already begun creating its own action plan over the last year with specific recommendations for areas of improvement. One focus area, for example, is stronger links between the upper school and lower schools, so this year high-school students are spending time helping in kindergarten classes.

“They have already begun to put things in place,” Nelson said.

The staff’s action plan should be finished by the middle of the school year, Nelson said, so its recommendations will be available for inclusion in the strategic plan.

Board chair Rachel Wisdom said she plans to participate in the committee as well. She suggested that the committee be termed a a “working group,” so that it doesn’t have all the responsibilities of a formal committee.

State law requires that any subcommittee of a board be held to the same open-meetings requirements as the full board. A working committee “constitutes a public body when it meets to discuss matters over which it has authority or advisory power, even if the committee takes no binding action,” according to a state attorney general’s opinion.

Asked after the meeting by an Uptown Messenger reporter to ensure that the committee or working group meets those same standards for the purpose of notifying and including the public, Wisdom replied that the group is more of an administrative committee with some board members on it than a board committee. She said would check with the board’s attorney on how to treat the committee from a legal standpoint.

“We don’t want to make it such a cumbersome process as to make it unworkable,” Wisdom said.

The retreat also included the reorganization of some of the board’s other committees, and the creation of staggered terms for board members so that they do not all expire at the same time. To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.

Live Blog Lusher Charter School board retreat – Nov. 11, 2017

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