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District holds Future of Guilderland Schools Summit

UPDATED Dec. 19, 2014—On Wednesday, Nov. 19, nearly 75 Guilderland Central School District residents came together to talk about one essential question: How do we sustain our commitment to our core mission with the resources currently available to us?

The first-ever Future of Guilderland Schools Summit was held from 6:45 to 9:30 p.m. at Tech Valley High School. Through a series of activities, a diverse cross-section of community members helped generate ideas about how best to address both diminished resources and excess capacity in the district. Attendees came from every corner of the district--there was representation from all five attendance zones*--and included parents, non-parents, local business owners, and educators.

The summit began with a brief opening presentation by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles which outlined some of the challenges the district is currently facing. Download the presentation (PDF) Participants were then asked to respond to an online poll question** related to options that could possibly be considered by district leaders moving forward. That poll question, as well as the results, are below:

Question: Given the school district's current financial situation and in light of the district's capacity and enrollment data, should the Board of Education consider the possibility of redistricting, school closure, regrouping grade levels, or repurposing buildings?

Poll results    Poll results
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After responding to the poll question, participants were then divided into small groups and asked to engage in brainstorming and visioning discussions to guide district leaders as they plan how best to use available resources in the years to come. Community members were asked to share their thinking about their responses to the poll question and to also explore any other potential options for sustaining our mission that should be considered.

Each table drew a map, or graphic recorder, of their discussion. All graphic recorders will be on display at the December 9, 2014, Board of Education meeting. You can also view the maps on this web page In addition, each table selected an "anchor" to take notes on the group discussion. View the summary of table notes by topic area (PDF)

The interaction throughout the evening took place in the form of “World CafĂ©” model which is a simple, flexible format for hosting large group dialogue. Small groups talked with one another for about 30 minutes before moving on to  a new table to review comments and ideas (via each table's graphic recorder) from other community members. After more than an hour and a half of small group work, table "anchors" were invited to share a few key points from their graphic recorders with the large group.

 view the results of the follow-up poll
Results of the follow-up poll question e-mailed to participants on Nov. 21, 2014. Click on the image to enlarge it.

At the close of the meeting, participants were told that they would be sent a link to once again cast their votes for the same poll question** that was used to open the summit. Due to technical difficulties, the follow-up poll could not be administered at the event, as originally planned. The intent of the follow-up poll was to see if community perceptions had changed at all throughout the course of the evening's activities. The results of the second poll are at right.

Attendees were also asked to complete a brief exit survey about the event's format and content. View the results of the exit survey (PDF)

Looking ahead, the Board of Education will review and discuss the ideas collected during the summit at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Community members are invited to attend to review the graphic recorders that will be on display throughout the meeting.

* View the breakdown of group participants by attendance zone (PDF) Table assignments were arranged using an Excel spread sheet with sorting by two categories: elementary attendance zone and attendees with children currently in school. Due to a handful of community members who could not attend at the last minute, tables two and six did not have representation from all attendance zones.

** Please note that the two polls administered as part of the Nov. 19 summit were not scientific polls. Individuals were allowed to vote for multiple options, including multiple votes for the same option, and did. Instead, the polls were designed to start a conversation about what options the Board of Education could possibly considered moving forward. The results of the poll are no board directives.

View photos from the event

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 photo of small group work at Nov. 19 summit  photo of small group work at Nov. 19 summit
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 photo of small group work at Nov. 19 summit  photo of small group work at Nov. 19 summit
 photo of small group work at Nov. 19 summit  photo of small group work at Nov. 19 summit

 

View the mind maps created at the event

Click on any image to enlarge it. Please note, you may need to rotate the images in order to read all text.  

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