As Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) move ahead with a new superintendent and a new direction, the school board is also searching for more and better ways to engage their stakeholders.
That’s why the board of trustees, at their regular meeting on Thursday, Aug. 25, held a video conference with Thought Exchange – a B.C.-based company that has worked with dozens of school divisions across Canada and the U.S. in a unique online engagement of students, staff, parents and the public at large.
Thought Exchange’s Neil Schafer provided trustees with a brief overview of what they do and the process that “bring people together in order to share perspectives.”
It’s a three-step system that Schafer added fills in the gaps between the more traditional means of engagement and previous online surveys and polling that people have become jaded about.
Initially, people are invited via email to participate and respond – or share – their thoughts on various customized questions. Once that step is complete, about a week to 10 days, participants – as well as those that were initially invited but didn’t want to comment – are asked to assign stars to show how important they rank the thoughts for each questions. However, only a limited number of stars are available for each section.
Last is the discovery step, where the company meets with the district to look at the extremely detailed reports they have available and can provide all sorts of information and breakdowns of the data depending on what the school division wants to see.
The first two steps can take about a month to complete, depending on want is wanted, and the school district has the final say on what the questions are and just how they want to moderate the process.
Schafer added there is an opportunity to capacity build for the division, as the company will train some staff to perform smaller processes – ones that don’t need just intensive data collection.
WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell, following the video conference, explained the three-year proposal to trustees that would cost $54,000 and provide two district wide processes per year as well as one other for either staff or students plus 15 hours of consulting for set up and design. However, if trustees felt they wanted to pay through installments, they would lose the 10 per cent discount as the overall cost would be $60,000
In the end, trustees liked what they saw and believe it could be useful, they determined it will be better to wait another meeting for Lovell to gather more details on the initiative and to have a better picture of where they stand on their budget.