Featured image of article: Reconfiguration, Consolidation Study

Reconfiguration, Consolidation Study

The ConVal School Board has been wrestling with a seemingly intractable problem for many years.  All 11 ConVal schools are significantly under-enrolled. This negatively impacts the students, causing educational inadequacies and inequities.

It also negatively impacts the taxpayers, who are paying to operate these underutilized buildings.  Additionally, the School Board has concerns about the high cost of maintaining safe conditions for students and staff in so many buildings.  Conversely, the Board is acutely aware of each town’s concerns about any changes to the status quo.  Lastly, another issue related to this issue is ConVal’s ability to hire and retain qualified academic staff. 

But the reality is that the School Board doesn’t have the authority to determine what should be done to address this problem.  School Board Chair Dick Dunning notes, “Because of the 1967 Articles of Agreement, the voters have to approve any changes made to our elementary school structure.  And it has to be approved by a 2/3’s majority.”

So the School Board decided to hire a consultant to examine the issues facing ConVal and how best to move forward.   Prismatic Services, the company selected,  has extensive experience working with school districts in planning their futures, including here in New Hampshire.  Prismatic will be analyzing our district and gathering input from our nine towns over the next several months, and issue their recommendations in December. 

“We wanted to go with an outside consulting company like Prismatic Services so ConVal residents would have an objective evaluation of our district’s issues,” said Mr. Dunning.  “And then we as a community have to decide if we want to move forward with their recommendations.”

“Prismatic Services will host a meeting in each town at a time and place to be determined by Town leaders.”, said Dr. Tatia Prieto, President and founder of Prismatic Services. “The meetings will be scheduled for September and October. The objective of the meetings will be to gather input from town residents about the district’s current school configuration and possible reconfigurations.

Prismatic has designed the meetings to allow residents to provide input via a variety of formats, including written responses to posted questions, prioritizing different options, short videos, and sharing with Prismatic Services consultants. Residents will be able to provide meaningful input in their preferred format, even if they only have 15 minutes to drop in.”
In addition, Dr. Prieto said that Prismatic Services will be conducting a forum online in which all ConVal residents will have the opportunity to give their input. Residents will be able to respond to posted questions, view the responses of others, and respond to those responses. This forum will be monitored and moderated by Prismatic Services.

Finally, Prismatic Services plans to gather information through an online survey.  The survey will give residents a third opportunity to share their thoughts about the current status of ConVal and its future.

School Board Vice-Chair Alan Edelkind is excited about what he sees.  “We are about to enter a strategic school reconfiguration journey, with the goals of bolstering education quality, fostering community collaboration and optimizing our resources.”, he said.  “Recognizing that transitions can be challenging, we have asked a consulting firm, Prismatic Services, to carefully analyze our district, gather input from our nine towns, staff members, parents, students, and community members and help us create an educational environment that prepares our students for lifelong success and strengthens our community.”

The School Board has stressed to Dr. Prieto the importance of listening to the ConVal community in drafting their report. Mr. Dunning said, “We are committed to community engagement and developing a sense of unity, and we hired a consulting company who shares that commitment.”

“Our student population is shrinking, we now have just under 2,000 students with empty classrooms throughout the district,” continued Mr. Dunning. “This is unsustainable and not the best use of our resources or best learning environment. The time has come to gather data, analyze and come up with a plan to ensure long-term sustainability of our educational programs and facilities.”

TownMeeting DateTimeLocation
AntrimSeptember 21, 20237:00 PMAntrim Elementary School
BenningtonOctober 2, 20237:00 PMPierce School
DublinOctober 4, 20237:00 PMDublin Consolidated School
FrancestownSeptember 27, 20237:00 PMFrancestown Elementary School
GreenfieldSeptember 20, 20237:00 PMGreenfield Elementary School
HancockOctober 5, 20237:00 PMHancock Elementary School
PeterboroughSeptember 26, 20237:00 PMPeterborough Elementary School
SharonSeptember 19, 20237:00 PMSharon Town Hall
TempleSeptember 28, 20237:00 PMTemple Elementary School