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Schenectady City School District sets focus groups to plan for the future

Schenectady City School District sets focus groups to plan for the future

Meetings will include parents and community
Schenectady City School District sets focus groups to plan for the future
Schenectady schools Superintendent Larry Spring addresses residents in the Eastern Avenue neighborhood.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY -- The Schenectady City School District is seeking input from parents and the community about what types of academic programs the district should invest in over the coming years.

The district has scheduled a series of focus groups next week to begin gathering ideas as district officials set out on its first long-term strategic plan since the district developed a long-range buildings plan and redrew district boundaries.

“This time it will be much more about programming: What skills will students need, what jobs will they be going into, where are you hoping they will go,” Superintendent Larry Spring said.

The district has scheduled seven focus groups for parents next week at various locations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and five focus groups for community members split between Wednesday and Thursday. Spring said the district is also planning to host focus groups for district staff.

He said the district will ask parents and community members what kinds of programming they want to see in the district in the coming years – whether district officials should prioritize smaller class sizes in primary grades or expand the number of career and technical classes offered, for example.

“For parents, we want to find out what is it they really want for the school district to be doing and what they hope their kids will be walking away from school with,” Spring said. “What are their hopes and dreams for their kids?”

As the district collects input from the community, Spring said, district officials plan to develop long-term goals and a strategy with the school board over the winter. Those goals would guide the district as it determines where to expand student offerings. Spring said the priorities identified at the focus groups would inform district leaders when they are making budget decisions about what types of program to invest in and expand.

“We are not going to be able to do everything, we know that,” Spring said. “If we are going to be able to add programming, it’s always going to be limited, so knowing what parents are envisioning is important.”

He said the district is also looking for new outcomes to measure and monitor that go beyond measures like graduation rates and test scores. The district may explore whether it's possible to measure something like kindness and whether students demonstrate kindness, Spring said as an example.

The district is also working to get more parent participation in next week’s focus groups than they have in other recent attempts to gather input. Spring said administrators scheduled the focus groups during times and at places where parents would be, like around the time students are dropped off and picked up from school.

Visit the district website to register to participate in a focus group.

Schedule of Community Meetings:

Wednesday,, Sept. 19: 5:30-6:30 p.m. at The Bridge Christian Church, 735 Crane Street

Wednesday, Sept. 19: 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Touched By Love Hair Studio, 1760 State Street #7

Thursday, Sept. 20: 1:30-2:30 p.m. at Yates Elementary School, 725 Salina Street 

Thursday, Sept. 20: 6-7 p.m. at Emmanuel Friedens Church, 218 Nott Terrace

Thursday, Sept. 20: 6-7 p.m. at Paige Elementary School, 104 Elliott Avenue 

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