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Board, administration to discuss Redesign 2020 again in January

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – More changes could be on the horizon for the Green Bay Area Public School District as it continues to look at declining enrollment on the city’s west side.

At their meeting Monday, Nov. 18, board members scheduled another board/superintendent retreat to discuss what’s next for Redesign 2020.

The meeting is scheduled from 5-9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, and is open to the public.

“One of the outcomes of this time together would be to make sure there are some decisions by the board of education in terms of next steps,” said Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld.

The last board/superintendent retreat was held in July, which later led to the consolidation of Jefferson and Fort Howard elementary schools and the repurposing of the Jefferson building into a west side Head Start Learning Center.

Some board members were vocal Monday about the need for complete transparency with the process this time around following the outcry from parents, teachers and community members surrounding the consolidation.

“This is an open meeting,” said Trustee Rhonda Sitnikau. “It’s important that people are aware of what we are going to be considering, discussing. I think it’s important based on what happened most recently with regards to Jefferson.”

Unlike the meeting in July, the information being discussed Jan. 13 will be posted and available to board members and the public ahead of time.

“It’s important that people are aware of what we are going to discuss, so that they could give some feedback because that is important,” Sitnikau said.

Also unlike the meeting in July, the retreat in January will be recorded and be available for community members to watch online.

“There is a lot of data and a lot of information to go through,” Langenfeld said. “The board has to have some deep discussions in terms of just what the data is and where you have interest in going. And then frame it so that then that’s maybe something you can engage your community in.”

Following the retreat in January, board members plan to hold a community forum to receive feedback from the community. The date for the forum is not yet set.

“I’m looking for an opportunity for people to actually have a conversation about it and digest the information,” said Trustee Kristina Shelton, “in a community format, not in a traditional meeting.”

In July, an outside facilitator was used to head up the meeting. It is not yet known if a facilitator will be used for the January meeting.

“I thought that last time the facilitators did a good job keeping us on task, forcing everyone to participate fully and probably saved us time by not letting us veer to far off track,” said Trustee Laura McCoy. “My request would be that we do that again to make sure we maximize that time.”

Shelton agreed with McCoy on the need for a facilitator.

“I actually think, for me, it felt better that there was an outside person facilitating it so that it ensured there was equity in the place, rather than being led by the administration,” Shelton said.

Sitnikau said she would be fine with using a facilitator again as long as the opportunity to ask serious and deep questions is provided.

“If that can coexist, it’s fine by me,” Sitnikau said. “Had I known the way things were going to proceed and be carried out (following the retreat in July), I would have probably asked much different questions, deep questions.”

Sitnikau suggested the name of the meeting be reimagined to make it more transparent.

“Even if it’s just Redesign 2020 collaboration community retreat,” Sitnikau said. “Something that doesn’t just by title say that it’s just the board and administration.”

Langenfeld said administration would work on it.

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