An organization based in Bethesda, Md., will help the Omaha Public Schools craft a long-term strategic plan.
The OPS board voted 7-0 Monday to let Superintendent Mark Evans negotiate a contract with Cross & Joftus, one of three consulting groups that made presentations to the board at a special meeting.
Board member Sarah Brumfield was absent, and Vice President Lou Ann Goding abstained from voting because a cousin works for Cross & Joftus and likely will be heavily involved in the project.
The board also heard from Atlantic Research Partners, based in Chicago and Jacksonville, Fla., and the Parthenon Group, which has offices around the world and has worked with OPS before.
Some board members wondered if the Parthenon Group could act impartially, considering the company has helped implement some ongoing district initiatives. Some board members also especially liked the community engagement plan presented by Cross & Joftus.
That company submitted a bid of approximately $260,000, but the cost could change depending on a final agreement.
Omaha business leaders and Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce officials have pledged to raise money to help OPS pay an outside group to help facilitate the strategic plan, said Wendy Boyer, senior vice president of community investment and advocacy for the chamber.
High-performing urban districts nationwide routinely use focused, long-term plans to direct everything they do. The plans detail measurable goals and promise public accountability.
OPS has had a working document that it calls its strategic plan, but the document was made public and given to the school board only last year after a request by The World-Herald. The plan contains broad aims based on board goals from more than a decade ago.
The board will vote on a final agreement with Cross & Joftus at a later date.