Donovan Group Insights

It’s Time to Start Planning for the 2023-24 School Year

Schools everywhere are wrapping up another great year. As the school year ends, district administrators prepare to kick back, relax and enjoy their summer vacation. Classes might’ve just ended, but it’s already time to begin planning for the next school year. Creating a plan sooner rather than later can help you start strong in the fall.

Read on for tips and advice to help you plan for the 2023-24 school year.

Why should you start planning now?

District administrators often put off their plans for the coming year. With summer fast approaching, many will be tempted to kick up their feet and not worry about what the future may hold. After all, it’s been a long year filled with many ups and downs. It’s only natural that district administrators would want to take a breather.

Go ahead and enjoy the summer vacation. You deserve it! Just don’t wait too long to create a plan. As you close out this school year, start brainstorming ideas for the next one. That way, you can head into the fall with confidence. A plan needs to be in place before the school year begins!

Here are some good reasons to start planning right now:

  • Summer is going to fly by: This year came and went in the blink of an eye. It feels like the first day of school was just yesterday! Time goes by faster than you realize. That’s why district administrators need to get a head start on their plans for next year. Don’t let the beginning of the school year catch you off guard. Start planning now so you don’t have to scramble to prepare in the fall.


  • Hit the ground running: District administrators need to develop a solid plan long before the next school year begins. Developing a plan on the fly doesn’t work too well. This can cause unnecessary stress and create a rocky start to the year. When fall arrives, you want the plan all laid out and ready to go. All you’ll need to do is go through the steps of that plan. Develop a plan now so you can execute it later.


  • Create the best plan possible: Plans aren’t meant to be created at the last minute. When district administrators rush through the planning process, they’re more likely to overlook important details and leave things unaccounted for. Summer allows you to prepare months in advance, giving you plenty of time to flesh out the plan’s various components. By the time fall is here, you’ll have an effective, well-thought-out plan that addresses all the needs for this coming year.

Reflect on what happened this past year

The first step to any district plan is thinking about what you want to do differently. Take some time to reflect on the past school year, noting what went well and what could’ve gone better. This will give you a good idea of what to incorporate into next year’s plan. Every new school year is a chance to address areas for improvement and accentuate your schools’ strengths even more.

Listen to what stakeholders have to say, too. Stakeholder feedback is a crucial part of the planning process. Invite them to share their thoughts, opinions and concerns about the past year. A good way to do this is by creating end-of-the-year surveys, social media polls and live Q&A sessions. Ask them what they liked, what they didn’t like and what they want to see more of in the future. That way, you can create a plan that addresses not only the district’s needs, but the needs of your school community.

For example, let’s say a referendum didn’t exactly go as planned. Board members were excited about this referendum because it was going to increase the district’s budget, which would expand student resources and greatly improve the quality of education. Unfortunately, stakeholders didn’t see it that way. They weren’t informed about how the referendum would benefit students and the broader community. All they focused on was the potential tax increase. Because of that, the referendum didn’t pass.

This is a valuable experience that can help districts create a more solid plan for the future. Instead of seeing the referendum as a failure, district administrators should view it as a learning opportunity. Analyze why things played out the way they did, then use that information to do better next year.

Create goals for the coming school year

After reflecting on the past year, take those lessons learned and turn them into goals for the future. Every new school year is a chance to try something different. Goals will set the framework for next year’s plan and give you a clear picture of what you want to achieve. You can’t start planning until you have a goal (or a few goals) in mind first. Once you’ve nailed down a specific set of goals, you can start mapping out the necessary steps to meet those goals.

There are a couple things to keep in mind as you dive into the goal-setting process. First, the goals should be ambitious but attainable. Challenge your district to go a little further than last year while staying within the realm of what it can reasonably accomplish. Also, make the goals specific and quantifiable. That way, you’ll be able to recognize when you’ve met (or even exceeded) those goals.

Imagine the music boosters at your high school hosted a fundraising event this past year. The group set a goal of raising 5,000 dollars at the event. They quickly surpassed that goal after just a couple hours! This unprecedented level of support shows that the fundraiser was a huge success, and you can confidently set the bar higher for next year. If the proceeds totaled upwards of 8,000 dollars, try aiming for 10,000 dollars at the next music boosters fundraising event.

Develop a plan that meets those goals

Goals are where you want to be. A plan is what will get you there. After identifying a list of goals, outline the steps your district will take to achieve them. Much like the goals themselves, the steps to achieving them should be specific, measurable and concrete. Identify gaps in your processes from last year, then fill those gaps so your district can reach a greater level of success.

Let’s revisit the referendum example. The overall goal is to pass the referendum with flying colors. To achieve this, the district needs to create a comprehensive campaign that focuses on educating stakeholders about the referendum’s benefits. By executing a well-thought-out plan, the district has a greater chance of passing that same referendum in the coming school year.

Similarly, a solid plan can help the music boosters achieve their goal of raising 10,000 dollars at next year’s event. District administrators can help the group reach their fundraising goal by expanding their marketing efforts and connecting them with more resources to accommodate a higher number of attendees. When you plan these steps ahead of time, you’re more likely to achieve what you set out to do.

As the year comes to a close, take a moment to celebrate everything your district has accomplished. Summer is a time to relax and reflect, but it’s also a time to start thinking about the future. The sooner you start planning, the better. The 2023-24 school year will be here before you know it!

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