Norwood-Norfolk survey helps set budget priorities

Norwood-Norfolk Central School Board of Education members recently took a survey to share their thoughts about what the priorities should be in crafting the district’s 2021-22 budget. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

NORFOLK — When it comes to setting budgetary priorities, members of the Norwood-Norfolk Central School Board of Education are in agreement on what priorities should be at the top, based on information they provided in a survey.

The St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services lent a helping hand to the board in prioritizing its 2021-22 budget through a product called the Thoughtexchange.

It had also been used as a tool to help develop a regional and district reopening plan this last summer. In addition, some districts have used Thoughtexchange to gather feedback on upcoming capital projects, and BOCES has looked at using it for potential superintendent searches.

Board members were sent a link to complete the survey, which started with a broad question of, ‘What do you value the most about Norwood-Norfolk Central School?” They were asked to provide any thoughts they had on that topic. Once the thoughts were added, they could be rated based on the level of agreement.

Rebekah Mott, the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES director of communication, briefed the board of education on its results during their meeting Tuesday night. She said the results would allow them to see where everyone agreed the most.

Fourteen people participated and provided 25 thoughts. Ms. Mott said some board members may have participated from multiple devices and were counted as more than one person.

The top thought that most board members agreed with was “Academics: Prepare the students for future careers whether it is to further their education or learn skills.” That was followed by “Quality of education: Great teachers who care about the standards of teaching.”

“Academics and quality of education are something that’s really non-negotiable to the board,” Ms. Mott said.

Other thoughts included “Quality education: Education is the foundation of the future”; “Maintain program staffing: All educational staffing should be maintained i.e. last resort to cut costs”; “We provide a high quality education and life experience to our children while being fiscally responsible: With that said, any budgetary decisions that involve reduction in staffing need to start as far away from the classroom experience as possible”; and “Athletics: Important for the development, team building, social development and other aspects.”

“That means the board agreed most with these,” Ms. Mott said. “We found that you all agree with each other very much. That’s a good sign to me, that you’re all really on the same page. You all fundamentally agree with each other about what’s important. There was no area where you were completely on opposite sides of the spectrum.”

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