CAMBRIDGE -- An official plan to increase communication between the Cambridge Central School District and the wider community was presented to the Board of Education at their regular meeting Tuesday night.
Those in attendance heard from Holly Emerson and Naomi Marsh, volunteers on the Communication Advisory Committee, which was formed late last year to address the lack of communication between the school board and the wider community.
"Everybody should be informed of what’s going on in our school," said Emerson, who outlined the plan as benefiting "all people who live in the district and all people who pay taxes - even those who don’t have children." A survey designed by the committee to identify what residents felt were important issues received 469 responses; participants were asked to prioritize the kinds of information they felt the district should communicate.
The topics that were ranked most important, according to the report, were student and school achievements, budgeting and financing, and curricular opportunities. Other topics included safety issues, school functions, and building projects.
"The important thing to remember about this survey is that people were asked to check all that apply," said Emerson, noting that had each respondent been instructed to select only one answer the results may have differed.
Ways in which respondents said they would most prefer the district to provide information were by local newspapers, community forums and the CCS website foremost, followed by Facebook posts, letters by mail and letters sent home with students.
"This survey proved to us that we need to use new methods to get information out," said Emerson.
Board member Peter Baker-Porazinski said he didn’t feel that survey respondents were explicitly asked if they felt that communication was currently adequate or inadequate, but conceded that it could always be improved on.
Marsh said that by following the guidelines of communication plans implemented by other, and in some cases larger, schools, the committee had been complete in its assessment. Monthly newsletters, an updated website and automated phone calls were suggested as potential ways the district could share information, as well as asking teachers to take a stronger role in promoting their students’ achievements.
Members of the board agreed to postpone a decision on adopting the plan until all members of the board had time to fully read through the outline as presented.
Board member Dr. Thomas Wolski asked the committee members in attendance if they would be willing to continue their volunteer efforts should the plan be accepted at next month’s meeting.
"In terms of who’s going to implement this plan should it be adopted, it may not be this committee or even a committee in general," said Marsh, who acknowledged she would consider staying. Emerson agreed to stay and said she felt strongly about the school’s role in promoting a positive relationship with district residents.
Also on the committee were members of the faculty and administration, including Superintendent Vince Canini, Board of Education President Dr. Kerri Brown and board member Peggy McLenithan.
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