JSD 117 To Use ThoughtExchange As Engagement Tool for Phase III Feedback

By Benjamin Cox on May 28, 2021 at 8:49am

Jacksonville School District 117 is hoping to provide a safe, anonymous alternative as they roll out information on Phase III of the Vision 117 plan. A presentation outlining Phase III can be viewed here.

Phase III has several options surrounding the district’s 2 oldest schools: Washington Elementary (1932) and the Murrayville-Woodson school (1917). The phase will either make permanent, generous updates and renovations to either building or consider the possible closure of Murrayville-Woodson with another addition to South Elementary School. The board is exploring a $13 million bond sale for August 21st.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says he understands that the process surrounding the schools’ next phase is a very personal and possibly emotional issue for many members of the community.

Ptacek said during this month’s regular monthly school board meeting that he hopes a new community engagement tool called ThoughtExchange can allow people to provide valuable input of their own to the school board and members of the community, as well as receive meaningful feedback from others in way that’s engaging, positive, and anonymous.

Ptacek says that ThoughtExchange will accompany the traditional community engagement tools the district has utilized in the past. He says that the new tool operates somewhat like Twitter in look, but it has key differences in making it anonymous: “One of the board members was thinking it wasn’t anonymous because they were thinking it was like Twitter, but you don’t need to log in. You don’t have to have a username or an ID. It is a system in which we are going to allow you to have input and then you will see the input for other individuals, and it will allow you to provide feedback on their statements – all done anonymously. We are hoping it’s a way we can really engage the vast amount of people in this community that want to have a voice about Phase III without limiting it to the number of people in a facility or to a room, especially during a time with COVID limitations. So, [this program is] trying to find the easiest way for people to give their voice to the district during this really tough time in order to get people involved.”

First engagement events with the public will begin in late July or early August using the new software. View an overview of the software here.