Leader Discussions Live:Exchange Results Nov 5, 2018
Public Finance and Trust with Dr. Mark Anderson
Dr. Mark AndersonASSOCIATE SUPERINTENDENT
Q: What are some thoughts and questions about the discussion with Dr. Mark Anderson?
How do you share back the results from the engagements? Are you communicating the findings back in different ways to different audiences?
We regularly share the results of exchanges with all individuals asked to participate (e.g., staff, parents, etc.). We also post results on the School District's web page. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Have you advanced any questions to your community that you regret? Any misstep you can share so that others can avoid it?
After a prolonged and intense bargain with our education association, we asked staff to share their thoughts on school board/staff relations. It turned out to not be the best timing to ask that question. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How did you market this platform to get people to respond
In addition to directly emailing those we invited to participate in an exchange, we also included information on our Facebook, web site, and notified local media who picked it up as a news story . - Dr. Mark Anderson
How do you get people in the community who have no affiliation with the school district to care about the bond/levy efforts? A large portion of our community are asking,"why should I care?"
We specifically present to neighborhood councils within our school district (a component of the City), retirement communities, and service clubs. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How do you handle when the community result isn't what the district thought it would be?
We have made adjustments to our planning if the community is not aligned with our suggested plan. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Have you used thought exchange for strategic planning? How has it been used to set priorities as opposed to seeking feedback on specific projects?
We have not used Thoughtexchange for strategic planning but will do so when it comes time to update our plan. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How was this process first introduced to the stakeholders? It's important because I am considering using this medium to gather information regarding future school planning.
We first introduced Thoughtexchange to parents and staff with a simple weather check at each school. It was a good and somewhat simple way to introduce the tool. - Dr. Mark Anderson
What has been your most effective strategy to get non-parents engaged in your Thought Exchanges?
We have a group of key communicators that we specifically target to participate in the various exchanges we have used. A general link to the district website with using Facebook to encourage participation. - Dr. Mark Anderson
What is the feedback you have received from the public about using thought exchange? Are you hearing from all the different"groups"that represent all families in your system?
We have received positive feedback on the use of Thoughtexchange. A lesson learned though is to not make the exchange too complicated or require reviewing too much background information. - Dr. Mark Anderson
As an administrator, how do you sift through each of the thoughts and analyze common threads? Does each public thought require a district response (or are responses generally expected)?
We do review the various thoughts but have relied on Thoughtexchange staff to anaylze and share common threads. - Dr. Mark Anderson
What advice would you give to district leadership that is currently considering using Thoughtexchange?
I would recommend the tool and starting with something simple - like a weather check. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How do you address division around issues when it comes up?
Thoughtexchange is able to identify common themes amongst diverse views which is very helpful as a starting point to find common ground to resolve issues. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How do you deal with people who are upset about decisions? Do you use social media or Thought Exchange again?
We often address this through face-to-face meetings but also explain decisions via social media. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Have you found that some constituents try to flood the Thought Exchange with their own personal views to skew results?
We haven't found this to be a concern. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How have you synergized thought exchange with your other engagements styles? Their are so many ways to engage so I'm curious about this.
While we garner more thoughts and participants through Thoughtexchange, we continue to hold public forums and meetings to provide a familiar means of dialoging with our community. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How diverse are the participants? Does it accurately reflect your stakeholders?
We are able to seperate parent and staff views on a topic and generally get more parent participation than staff participation. While we have not asked other demographic questions, we tend to see higher participation in Thoughtexchanges from higher income areas of the City but not always, depending upon the topic. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How do you ensure one person/group doesn't post over and over to raise their belief to the top? Needs to be reflective of entire community
Thoughtexchange is able to moderate such activity. - Dr. Mark Anderson
It is helpful to see the evolution of ThoughtExchange support school/facility based decisions. Community voice is important.
We have found it very helpful. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How many different social media platforms do you utilize to promote bond/levy efforts and how often are you using them? An increasing number of people are using Facebook to find information instead of a website or calling the schools directly.
We currently have one of the largest group of followers on our Facebook page in the State of Washington. We also use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram and have a large following on each of these platforms. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Do you pilot the Thoughtexchange questions in any way before you propose them to the entire public?
We do work very carefully with Thoughtexchange and our Superintendent's Leadership Team to develop the questions for an exchange but have not piloted them prior to launching. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Do you find people are open to participating in Thoughtexchange?
It gives individuals a means to participate in providing input at their own pace and in a location which is comfortable, versus having to attend a community meeting on a given date and time. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Is there a way of controlling who takes part? Ex: if only want staff involved, could some else with the link still participate? Ensure accurate reflection of targeted stakeholder groups
While not foolproof, we haven't experienced this to be a big issue. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Do you ever use it for things that are not related to a vote? Engagement on other things
Yes, we have used Thoughtexchange for a variety of topics not on the election ballot (e.g., weather check of schools, grade configuration study, etc.) - Dr. Mark Anderson
It seems like you have a very supportive community and community leadership - going as far as to say your mayor thinks the schools are a top priority. What advice would you have for some of the other communities that do not appear to have the same backing from stakeholders?
Schools need to reach out to City leaders and start forming relationships on a variety of topics. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How have you developed and nurtured the partnerships with the city?
The School District has had a joint-use partnership with the City Parks system for years and recently started relationships with the City Library System. In the past year, we have developed an even closer partnership with the City for planning two bond propositions, sharing each other's land and resources. A team of City/District key administrators meet weekly on the partnership projects and ideas. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Thank you for your openness and sharing your unique perspectives!
Thank you for your time and interest. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Have you used Thougtexchange to help answer what you are doing with the old campus buildings?
Yes, we have. - Dr. Mark Anderson
It was very valuable information regarding the value of Thoughtexchange and facilities planning knowing what parents and staff want is key
Yes, it is good information. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How far in advance do you start your planning? From beginning to end... how long does your typical bond-levy conversation end with your community and staff?
We typically start planning for the next bond two years in advance of the election. In this case, where we are changing grade configurations and school boundaries, we started four years in advance. - Dr. Mark Anderson
How has the recent funding model in WA changed the way you communicate with your constituents around your facility planning?
We have used the change in funding to advance accelerating our bond plan and still reducing the tax rate. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Buy-in is also about what you are doing with the old schools. What have you done with the abandoned old campuses? We have that dilemma here at our school.
Spokane currently does not have any non-used school facilities. We did close a school several years ago but reused it for an option program. - Dr. Mark Anderson
Are there any privacy concerns? Need to ensure privacy laws are upheld
Good question for Dave and Thoughtexchange - Dr. Mark Anderson
When you go on the ballot for both bond and operating funds, do those appear as two separate issues or a combined issue?
Yes, operation levies and school bonds are always two seperate ballot measures. - Dr. Mark Anderson
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