The Ad Hoc Best Educational Use of Facilities Committee, tasked with considering and exploring potential consolidation among the town’s elementary, middle, and high schools, will host in-person focus groups during October and November to gather input from residents and others interested in the process.
Members of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools Consulting Group (MARS) team last spring presented to school officials and then to the Select Board a summary of their 50-page Best Educational Use of School Facilities Study for the Hull Public Schools.
The report outlines four options based on declining enrollments, public concern about excess space, and other considerations, ranging from a mixed-use model to maintaining the status quo of continuing to operate and maintain three separate school facilities. The report includes what the group believes to be the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options.
“These meetings are an opportunity for all community members to engage and participate in the discussion [about the four recommended options],” School Superintendent Judith Kuehn told The Hull Times. “I’m excited about the process moving forward and hearing from all the stakeholders. It’s important that we have high participation.”
The study is the next step in helping the schools achieve goals related to the five-year strategic plan, geared toward preparing students for success in this century. The overall objective is to determine how best to educate Hull’s youth and also the best way to allocate school space.
A Community-at-Large Focus Group will be held Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., in the Hull High School Auditorium, 180 Main St.
An Open Participation Focus Group is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 20, from 10-11 a.m., in the HHS Exhibition Room.
Hingham Public Schools Interim Superintendent Gary Maestas, acting as an outside consultant, will facilitate the focus groups with Kuehn, who will open each meeting with an introduction of the process and a summary of the four recommended options from the MARS report.
“The majority of the meeting will involve Dr. Maestas seeking input on the pros and cons and strengths and weaknesses of each option,” Kuehn said.
A community survey will be available at a later date to gather further input.
The ad hoc committee, formed to consider all aspects of the study and to ultimately report back to the School Committee with its recommendations, will meet Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m., in the HHS Exhibition Room.
Additional focus groups will be held for parents, teachers, staff members, students, and elected officials during October and November to listen to their questions and views on the four options.
Among the observations made by MARS is that while “from a strictly educational standpoint, we believe that Option one [maintaining the status quo] could allow the District to continue to incrementally improve the schools and the teaching and learning process that happens there every day, the challenges presented by financial sustainability and projections for the next decade indicate an enrollment decline that does not justify operating three [school] facilities.”
For further information about the MARS report, including full details about the four options under consideration, visit the Hingham Public Schools website link https://www.hullpublicschools.org/sites/g/files/vyhlif4546/f/uploads/report_main_20-05-12.pdf.
A Best Educational Use of Facilities webpage will be available soon on the town website, where citizens will be able to subscribe to receive e-alerts containing meeting dates and minutes, agendas, and other information.