I have been part of Newbury Schools for a little over a month, and I have learned a lot about the school system and the community. The school has a wonderful learning environment and a dedicated and committed staff. I am particularly impressed with how well the staff knows our students and their families. There is a strong emphasis on knowing the social/emotional health of our students through observation, as well as in the social/emotional health classes we teach in the elementary school.
In the last month, I have also heard a lot of opinions and emotions about the exploration of merging our school district with a neighboring school district. The final decision about a possible merger will be made by our elected Board of Education. My role in the process is to provide factual data to the Board of Education. The data I provide to the Board is related to financial resources, human resources, academics, and facilities. This information is easy to find and compile. For example, I can use the Cupp Report to collect district profile information for our district, as well as neighboring districts, for accurate comparison.
However, it is not as easy to collect data about the affective side of this decision, such as the community’s thoughts and values regarding educating our youth. To collect this data, the Board has hired Burges & Burges, Marketing Strategists, to complete a community survey. The survey will be provided in two forms: online and by phone. The online survey will be for parents and staff, and the phone survey will be for the community. The online survey will begin in late October and the phone survey in November. Burges & Burges will analyze the surveys and give an in-depth report to the Board of Education. We anticipate the report to be completed by January.
The Board of Education has a difficult decision ahead of them and understands how unsettling this interim period will be for staff, parents, students, and the community. The Board feels regular and transparent communication will help everyone understand the process and final decision. The Board has committed to communicate regularly about their progress through Board meetings, our District webpage, and the quarterly mailer, “Knightlines”.
During this process, I am committed to providing relevant data to the Board of Education while ensuring our staff and students have the best year ever academically and socially.
Dr. Jacqueline Hoynes