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Nearly 300 members of the public and staff spoke up about Helena Public Schools facilities at a series of eight listening sessions held in November and December.

Missed the meetings?

It’s not too late to weigh in.

There’s an online survey on the Helena schools website: http://helenaschools.org/2015/12/11/on-line-listening-sessions/.

The deadline is Dec. 31.

The notes from all of Helena Public Schools’ eight listening sessions can be found at http://bondinfo.helenaschools.org/listening-sessions/.

All the November meeting notes are posted there now, and the December ones should be posted within the coming week.

The listening sessions are an initial step for launching a fresh start for school facilities plans following the defeat of a $70 million bond issue in June.

The school board plans to use information from those sessions to guide its future facilities plan and bond to take to the voters.

The online survey was put together by following roughly the same format as the public listening sessions, said school district superintendent Kent Kultgen.

“We tried to align it directly with the questions that were asked at the listening sessions,” he said.

The listening session discussion questions were:

  • What guiding principles are important to you in discussing facilities and educational goals?
  • What interests need to be recognized as the school district plans for facilities improvement?
  • What do you not want to lose when planning improved facilities? What do you want to gain?

Attendees also discussed ways to engage the community and what success would look like.

The written survey poses both open-ended and multiple-choice questions that pick up on topics and themes raised at the listening sessions.

“We’re trying to kick off a conversation,” Kultgen said, by listing some ideas, but leaving it open to the participant.

The online survey was put together by Patinkin Research Strategies of Lake Oswego, Oregon, working with the school administration office, Kultgen said.

Information from the survey and the listening sessions will be used to formulate a community phone survey.

The goal is for Patinkin Research to start the phone survey in the third week of January, said Kultgen.

Kultgen also plans to hold a series of staff listening sessions at all school buildings beginning in January.

Reporter Marga Lincoln can be reached at 447-4083 marga.lincoln@helenair.com

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