Battle Ground Public Schools Embarks on Community Engagement Campaign

May 8, 2015 BGPS Web


May 7, 2015

Traditional town hall meetings have a whole new look in Battle Ground Public Schools thanks to an online program called ThoughtExchange. Driven by the desire to reconnect with the communities and parents that support Battle Ground schools, the district is launching a community engagement campaign this spring. On Friday, May 8, the district is sending thousands of emails that inv ite parents, district staff and hundreds of community stakeholders to join a confidential online conversation where participants can share their thoughts, concerns and ideas for the future of the district. 

"I want to get a feeling for the true pulse of the community and really hear people's thoughts and ideas in their own words," said BGPS Superintendent Mark Hottowe. "Previous survey efforts, although valuable, have not given our community and staff the opportunity to share their true feelings. This process is far beyond a normal survey and I am looking forward to an open, ongoing conversation with our communities." 

ThoughtExchange is an online software program that engages participants in a three-step conversational process. In the first step, participants share their thoughts about their home school and the district through open-ended questions. A few weeks after the first step, participants are asked to review and prioritize the thoughts of stakeholders who responded by assigning stars to the ideas that resonate with them personally. Starred thoughts help determine the group's sense of priority and concern, enabling the district to proceed with ideas that have risen to the top through general agreement within the community. The final step takes the starred ideas from each school and develops priority areas that are shared with the community through interactive websites. 

Schools and the district office can use these priorities and thoughts to make informed decisions. District administrators will use this information to update the district's strategic plan and school principals can review the information for school-level changes. "We know people are busy and recognize that it can be difficult to attend another meeting," Hottowe said. "This process lets our stakeholders engage in a community-wide conversation from the comfort of their homes and give us the community voice we need to make informed decisions." 

All community members are invited to participate in this process. Community members who do not receive an email invitation can self-register to join the conversation online at Stakeholders without email can get a paper copy of the survey at any school office and return it to the district office. The first step of the campaign begins May 8 and responses will be collected through May 17. The whole conversation will occur through the end of the school year. Community members can contact the district's communication office for additional information: or 885-5337.

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