Academic Program & Capital Project Thoughtexchange: What did we learn?

Strong interest in student learning experiences and a sound long-term plan

From May 30 through June 10, the district conducted a Thoughtexchange on the topic of academic programs and school facilities. Thoughtexchange is an online engagement platform that allows participants to respond to a question and rate the thoughts of others.

The question the district asked was, “What are some of the most important things for us to keep in mind as we plan together for the future of our facilities and academic programs?” This exchange included a total of 762 participants who shared 720 thoughts and provided 28,648 ratings.

What did we learn?

You can find a full report from the Thoughtexchange, including all thoughts and top themes, at The following is a broad summary of what was learned. The top five overall thoughts are listed below.

We learned that there is…

  • Strong interest in making sure students have access to programs, learning opportunities and overall support that will best prepares them for the future in facilities that are suited for these experiences;
  • Awareness that existing facilities need some investment to be properly maintained;
  • A desire to make sure all stakeholders are part of the planning process – especially teachers and others who work with students daily;
  • A need for a community conversation about neighborhood schools, transitions, and the school configuration options that have been identified; and
  • The need for a sound, long-term facilities improvement plan.

“I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this conversation, which is just a piece of our overall community engagement efforts,” said Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. “What we learned is a strong foundation for the more in-depth conversations we need to have as a community to move our vision forward, evaluate school configuration options and make sure our facilities match our programs.

What are we doing next?

  • June 26 Superintendent’s Conference Day – Discussion of the Program Vision and capital project and live Thoughtexchange with all faculty and staff.
  • Summer Community Conversations: July 11 (6:30-8:30 p.m.), July 25 (6:30-8:30 p.m.) July 31 (1-3 p.m.) RSVP to attend
  • Faculty and Staff Forums: Sept. 9 and16
  • All feedback will be compiled for the Board of Education.
  • The Board is expected to narrow down the school configuration options by October 1 for future consideration.

Thoughtexchange: Top Five Thoughts

(1) Academics should always be our highest priority. Academics are the foundation of public education.

(2) Teachers are your greatest assets. Their perspectives should be valued by the administration. The teaching staff should be a bigger part of all the discussions involving restructuring – they are the ones in the trenches working with kids.

(3) Be certain capital improvements are necessary and that they are correctly installed. The geothermal system was a great idea that was poorly executed. It’s too easy to spend other people’s money without regard to efficacy.

(4) Attracting and retaining high-quality teachers.

(5) Make sure students don’t just amass knowledge but actively engage with the material and learn to think for themselves and ask critical questions. Facts are quickly forgotten. Active engagement leads to deeper knowledge that sticks longer. Critical thinking skills are useful throughout life. 4.2