From the meeting about a wide variety of topics, two primary discussions emerged, both of which would involve a high level of amicable, mutually beneficial collaboration between the school district and the town government.
The first point was the possibility of a new community center for all Colchester citizens—specifically, possible locations for it and whether a school district–owned parcel of land adjacent to Bayside Park might be an optimal choice. Would there be interest in engaging in a discussion about such an arrangement? Indeed, there would be; the school board would be pleased to entertain that discussion and what it could mean for the two organizations and for Colchester citizens.
The second major theme was the possibility of shared information technology resources and personnel between Colchester School District and the Town of Colchester. Would there be interest in engaging in a discussion about such an arrangement? Again, the answer on both sides was a resounding yes.
Both of these ideas—as well as others, including that of potentially relocating the school district’s administrative offices to the town office building to conserve costs—were discussed at the recent meeting in very general, preliminary terms; with regard to a community center on school district property, both the Colchester voters and the State of Vermont would need to approve such an arrangement after a myriad of logistics and finer points were carefully worked out. Similarly, regarding the sharing of information technology personnel and resources, a number of elements would first need to be determined and orchestrated. What is clear, however, is that the organizations are making considerable progress in opening the dialogue and in collaborating much more closely—goals that are clearly affirmed in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017, the Town of Colchester’s Heritage Project, and the Town of Colchester’s Economic Development Action Plan. Specifically, one strategy in Heritage Plan is to “combine resources wherever legally possible” and to “maximize the impact of the town/school resources.” Similarly, language in the aforementioned documents refers to the need for implementing a sustainable direction forward for the community and to “integrate community services and education at all levels for the purpose of educating all citizens.”
The July 1 announcement of the communications collaboration between the two organizations is another example of these efforts, as are a number of other examples of district-town collaboration that have provided mutual benefit to the community, including:
- sharing space and equipment in the Public Works Department garage
- sharing phone system, fiber-optic, and voice mail installations and services
- the construction of the Colchester Rescue building on school district property
- the sharing of buildings, fields, and facilities for recreation programs
While these conversations are just beginning, they are indicative of the positive and collaborative spirit embraced by both organizations for the benefit of Colchester, and we celebrate them. Please stay tuned as we grow and expand upon these and future themes and initiatives. Your schools, your town, your news!
Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!