An upstate New York School Board was facing long term challenges around major cuts in state funding, declining enrollments, outdated facilities and the need to close and merge some schools in the district. The community was divided on a number of these issues which led some board members to avoid making the tough choices that needed to be made. One result of this lack of unity and cohesion on the board was a lack of confidence on the part of the community. As a result the community consistently voted down referenda that would have provided the district with adequate funding to build new facilities and fund or maintain much needed programs. The new Superintendent and a newly elected board chair had as their goal, building and enhancing the board’s capacity to unite and make wise decisions about tough issues in a way that not only unified the board, but the community as well.
After meeting with the whole board and the superintendent to explain the process we use to work with our clients, Ki ThoughtBridge
conducted individual confidential diagnostic interviews with each member of the board of education, the Superintendent and his administrative team, and key members of the community’s business, civic, philanthropic and educational groups. Using the data from those interviews, Ki ThoughtBridge drafted a report to the board which recommend a three phased development process.
- A High Performance Team
- Success in Achieving Consensus on a Strategy for the Facilities Plan which had been rejected twice before.
- A Strategy to Close the Communication Gap Between the Board and the Community that built positive support and trust.
The Superintendent’s response: “We began our work with Ki ThoughtBridge in the spring of 2009 and we were impressed from the beginning. They conducted very detailed interviews with members of all stakeholder groups, compiled the information and then developed a strategy to address the various concerns as noted during the interview process. The work was grueling but was the first step towards developing norms, expectations and more collegial relationships. We subsequently contracted with Ki ThoughtBridge for two more sessions in 2010-2011 which were exceptional. My Board is working very effectively, have stayed true to their public agreements and as a result, we have seen improvement across the board. In fact, our Board has received a number of accolades locally for their work the previous two years.”