I spent yesterday and today facilitating a strategic planning session for the James Irwin Charter School Board. I think very highly of the JICS board and am totally energized from their passion for excellence at their school.
Using a strategic plan is a way for a charter board to convey their vision through a document that measures progress and details school goals. Many boards use it as a way to speak with one voice and keep on focus. The first step in strategic planning is to talk about the vision and mission statements to make sure everyone inherently understands them and agrees with them. Then the planning team does a SWOT assessment, which includes Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This environmental scan includes both internal and external aspects. After analyzing the landscape, the board outlines long-term (5-10 years) and short-term (1-4 years) goals and annual strategies to accomplish the goals.
Much of the annual "work" is done by subcommittees, staff or parent volunteers. The board provides oversight and direction that is matched to the vision and mission of the school. Many times the board must adopt board policies that ensure future boards will know the values of the charter board. This ensures longevity of the vision and mission.
For boards that use a strategic plan, it becomes their most important governing document. The boards that I've seen use it have adapted the process and model to best suit their needs.