Everett schools recruit closed-door focus groups

Everett Public Schools is planning two closed-door focus groups next week to figure out how the district will make future property decisions. These are not public meetings. A select group of neighbors were invited to two sessions. One of those invited sent me a copy of the letter. It reads in part:

“Ideas from these focus groups will be used to develop property-use planning recommendations for the school board’s consideration in June 2012.

“Your ideas, experiences and perspectives are valuable. We want to hear from residents who live throughout the district’s nearly 40 square miles, ranging from Marysville to the north, all the way to Bothell and unincorporated Snohomish County in the south.

“We have room for 64 people each night. We will not have room for everyone who may wish to attend. This invitation process is designed to gather many different neighborhood voices, and to ensure that the focus groups are the right size for rich, meaningful conversations.”

UPDATE: Everett Public Schools spokeswoman Mary Waggoner provided some additional information about what’s going on. She said the school district has no plans to sell property. The district’s newly-written strategic plan indicates the school district should use all its resources to support student learning — including property.

“Using that criteria, is land we are not using (but might need in the future) being put to ‘student support’ uses?,” she wrote. “If not, could it be, and how would we make those decisions aligned with community expectations?”

The number of people invited to the focus groups — 64 — is based on the eight tables of eight people “working through the process of sharing ideas and developing thoughts to share with the board,” she wrote. Those invited were drawn from designated neighborhood representatives; student and parents; and city and county staff. Any remaining spots will go toward the 10,000 people who are on the district’s newsletter mailing list. She said the first people who say they want to go will be accepted.

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