By John Gardner
The Thompson School District is hosting a series of community meetings designed to gather information related to the defeated bond and mill levy last November.
The district has labeled these meetings as “listening sessions” in hopes of gathering critical data that will provide information as to why a majority of voters decided against the two ballot initiatives, and perhaps provide a message as to how residents would like the district to proceed.
The district has contracted with Cooperative Strategies, a group which specializes in survey and data gathering, to facilitate six sessions within the district starting this week and running through the end of March.
Scott Newell with Cooperative Strategies presented details of the community meetings to the Thompson School Board of Education at its Feb. 15 meeting in Loveland. Newell said his organization has been brought in to facilitate the meetings so there’s an objective third party between the district and residents.
“We’re not coming in with any prescriptive agenda or really trying to drive anything,” Newell said.
The meetings are more designed to ask questions of voters as to why they voted the way they did. Questions will include asking people what they thought about the bond issue? Did they feel the district communicated with them effectively about what the bond issue included? Did they know about the district’s Master Plan, Thompson Reinvented? Did they know about meetings scheduled to discuss the master plan and the proposed bond issue? And were they invited to those meetings?
“Things like that to see if it was a communication issue,” Newell said.
The conversations will also focus on bond-specific topics such as the associated tax burden and the community’s needs and wants.
There will be six community meetings in Loveland and in Berthoud. At each session information will be presented about the current facility, infrastructure and technology needs of the school district; an update on the current state of school funding across the state, as well as the district’s facilities funding. An overview of the 2016 bond and the scope of work for the district’s facilities will also be presented, but the majority of the time will be for those in attendance to give their feedback.
Board member Bryce Carlson asked how Newell intended to get people to attend these meetings, since the people who voted against the bond issue are most likely not to attend.
“It’s hard to get those folks,” Newell said, “but we’re really trying to get the communication out saying we’re having these meetings.
“We want to hear from you,” Newell added. “There’s things we need to consider moving forward because there’s still substantial need here at the district, and we can’t accomplish those things without your help.”
For those who are inclined not to attend the public meetings, there are other options. There will also be an online survey available to district residents as well as a hard copy of the survey that is available for pick up at the school district administrative building and schools.
The information gathered will be presented to the board at a scheduled meeting in April.
District superintendent, Stan Scheer, said this is an opportunity for more communication between the district and its residents about the continuing needs of the district.
“It’s a great opportunity, one more time, to talk about why the district was doing this in the first place,” Scheer said. “I think that conversation has to continue, whether you do something next year, two years from now, or three years from now, I think from now on, given the challenges you face, we face as a school district, this community needs to realize that we have challenges.”
To participate in the online survey click here: TSD Listening session survey
Thursday, Feb. 23 – 6-8 p.m.
Thompson Valley High School auditorium, 1669 Eagle Dr., Loveland, Colo.
Tuesday, Feb. 28 – 6-8 p.m.
Grace Place Church, 375 Meadowlark Dr., Berthoud, Colo.
Thursday, March 16 – 6-8 p.m.
Chilson Senior Center, 700 E. Fourth St., Loveland, Colo.
Thursday, March 23 – 6-8 p.m.
Ponderosa Elementary School, 4550 Florence Dr., Loveland, Colo.
Thursday, March 30 – 6-8 p.m.
Mountain View High School Auditorium, 3500 Mountain Lion Dr., Loveland, Colo.
Thursday, April 6 – 6-8 pm
Medical Center of the Rockies – Longs Peak Room, 2500 Rocky Mountain Ave., Loveland, Colo.