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Boardman schools preparing for the future

December 23, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Before the end of the year, close to 40 volunteers will be hosting small group sessions with people who have a connection with Boardman School District. The data collected will help give the district feedback as to how they want the district to look down the road and will help it come up with a five-year plan to get there.

"During conversations with the community during last year's closing of Market Street, it was obvious that we needed to do more collaborative longterm planning with the community," said Boardman Superintendent Tim Saxton.

Following that meeting, the district engaged Finding Leaders, an organization founded by Paul Pendelton that helps schools move forward. Two meetings were held with over 100 attending the first back on Oct. 8. From that meeting 40 committed to small group sessions, attended a Dec. 3 meeting to prepare, and have till the end of the year to gather data and turn it in.

"We have had tremendous community support throughout the process," Saxton said. "Our goal is to have over a thousand people able to give input into the plan."

By holding small group sessions, the idea is to allow people to give honest input in what they want the future Boardman schools to look like and what direction to go. Those giving input could be staff, students, residents (with or without students in school) and business owners. The key is to have everyone feel comfortable with telling just how they feel.

"All of the community feedback needs to be back to my office by the end of this calendar year," Saxton said. "During the first two weeks of January, Finding Leaders will process the collected data. We will then host a brainstorming workshop on Jan. 14 to discuss the feedback and create goals. This group will consist of community members and school leaders."

Finding Leaders will be searching all the group feedback to look for threads. Those are ideas that have more than one or two people suggesting it.

Saxton said he is happy with the support so far. Paul Pendleton, founder of Finding Leaders, said he was happy as well, and was amazed at having 100 at the initial meeting, then having 40 step up to host a small group session. Normally the numbers are smaller, he said, but the larger amount was a good sign.

"Good school districts usually have a high number of people involved," Pendleton said

The comments that are sought in the group sessions can't be linked to the person's name and email. Those two things are asked for at the beginning and are used to keep the people informed of the progress in putting a plan together. They will also be used to invite participants to the "State of the Schools" later in 2020.

For now it is all about collecting the data and letting Boardman residents play a role in Boardman School District's future plan.



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