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JPS Begins Online Program For Feedback

The Jamestown Public Schools District is looking for community input now more than ever.

With the launch of an online community-forum program known as ThoughtExchange, school officials hope to curate positive discussion regarding the school district that can lend assistance to school-related decisions.

“It’s very important to the board and I that we generally get the community’s input,” said Dr. Bret Apthorpe, Jamestown Public Schools District superintendent.

The first Jamestown-related questions posted on the site focuses on the ongoing principal search at Jamestown High School.

“What values do you desire in the new JHS Principal?” the site reads, and prompts users to respond accordingly.

The search for a new principal officially began at a recent Board of Education meeting. However, the position came into question when Dana Williams was appointed to the role on an interim basis after the previous principal, Dr. Rosemary Bradley, resigned in December.

Additionally, ThoughtExchange will play a role in a March review of the status of the high school as a method to generate feedback from students and staff.

Apthorpe said the implementation of ThoughtExchange was slated to begin this school year and had been the topic of districtwide conversation for several years.

“This was the perfect place to use it, for a principal,” he said, referring to the current principal search.

People who participate can describe values of an an ideal candidate and others can rank each response. The highest ranked responses will then be organized for school officials to review.

Apthorpe said the highest ranked values, in this case, will be included in an evaluation rubric when future candidates are being reviewed for the principal position.

He said in prior employment searches for such positions community input may have been sought during public meetings or through the use of surveys, but he noted that “traditional means are restrictive.”

“The ThoughtExchange program is unique because everybody in the school community can have input,” Apthorpe said. “It sorts and prioritizes it and because it’s online people’s schedules aren’t our problem. We can get their input at a time that is convenient to them.”

He added that community members can add to their comments multiple times, noting that the feedback is not “one and done.” Responses and rankings are anonymous as well. Additionally, responses can be categorized into groups such as students, parents, staff or community.

Apthorpe described the newest program as “a tool” that trumps traditional methods of communication with the community.

The current online question will expire on Feb. 7.

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