Subject: Request for the Public Engagement Firm RFP and several questions/concerns about the PE firm
Again, I thank the BOE and the District Administration for providing past RFPs on the school district website. I am, however, unable to locate the Public Engagement RFP. May I see that, please?
I am mostly curious what parameters DeJong-Richter and Fallon Research are operating within. I see that DeJong-Richter focuses on K12 Facility Planning and Fallon Research focuses more on gathering public opinion. When I initially heard the district talk about hiring a PE firm, I had in mind only what Fallon Research does, not necessarily what DeJong-Richter says they do. I do readily admit that we are in dire need of facility planning – don’t get me wrong. 🙂 My first purpose in sending this email is to appropriately set my own expectations on what kind of result to be looking for at the end of this process.
As mentioned by Tom Lockman (and others?) during the Sept 10th Board Meeting, I wholeheartedly agree that this is not something whereby we simply sit on our duffers and see what comes out of the black box – rather, we get the most out of our investment by fully engaging ourselves each step of the way.
As such, when I look at the proposal submitted by these two groups (whom I will refer to as DeJong for brevity), I see that they have a very reasonable approach but I am concerned that there is no mention of deliberative sessions or polls. Step 1 is called “Plan for planning”, and I very much encourage those who are involved in this primary session to make it clear that Unit 4 will actively work to go above and beyond in an effort to be open and transparent; putting as much information online as possible, providing some statistics on the 10-12 members of the focus group in Step 2, actively and personally inviting a very diverse group of stakeholders for Step 3’s “Futures Conference”, and providing spaces (physical and online) where dialogue can continue outside the formal events and yet still monitored by DeJong and Unit 4 officials. I am also concerned how DeJong will be conducting close-ended questions in Step 2; using pages 14-15 as an example and keeping in mind that DeJong has not even had a chance to find out what issues the community has, who will decide how to shape the questions being asked? I am also concerned that the Data analysis and GIS collection will not happen until Step 4 – at the very least, would not that information be key for Step 3?
It occurs to me that the work of DeJong will greatly overlap the newly formed Educational Programming Committee and the existing Facilities Committee. How will these efforts be integrated?
Please note that I am very much excited about the opportunities this coming year. I confess I am not crazy about the pricetag associated with DeJong. But as we move forward, I want to pour my energy into something positive and impactful – I am taking Tom’s advice to heart and getting engaged. I also very much agree with Sue Grey in that it is hugely important to hear from as many as possible, not just the “usual 20” I believe she said on Monday; this is why I am pushing for deliberation and spaces (physical and online) where people can be shown that they can make a difference.
With respect and anticipation,