The Omaha school district is once again soliciting feedback for its strategic plan process via town hall website MindMixer.
This time parents, students and staff are being asked to weigh in on vision and mission statements for the district and guiding principles that will shape the district’s long-term strategic plan.
There are six options for a district vision statement that participants can vote on. And there’s a chance to vet a proposed mission statement — essentially a new slogan, “Omaha Public Schools is committed to preparing ALL students to excel in college, career and life.”
OPS has signed a five-year, $13,500 contract with MindMixer to gather input from community members as the district develops its strategic plan.
Community forums attracted hundreds of participants, but the district wanted an online option for people who couldn’t attend the meetings or wanted to talk more.
Several questions were posed using MindMixer — at www.
omahapublicschools.mindmixer.com — such as “What changes should be instituted at OPS?” and “What should be prioritized, building upgrades or smaller classrooms?”
Parents also chimed in with their own concerns and ideas, from complaints about early high school start times to requests for a new high school in northwest Omaha.
Since the site went live in the fall, 600 people have signed up for accounts and 300 are actively participating, MindMixer representatives Kate Grohmann and Nick Kauffman told the school board last week.
Participants are asked for their birth date, gender and ZIP code. Data show that the average user is a 44-year-old woman.
The board expressed interest in spreading the word about MindMixer, especially as the district works to increase outreach to parents and community members.
Board members Yolanda Williams and Tony Vargas said the district needs to make sure that its refugee and English-language-learner parents know about MindMixer and its translating capabilities. It uses Google Translate for participants who don’t speak English.
“I want to make sure their voices are heard and they can equally participate in this,” Vargas said.
Board members and several OPS administrators have profiles on the site and were encouraged by Kauffman and Grohmann to engage with other participants, pose questions and link to the MindMixer site on their own social media feeds. Nick Goding, who works with strategic plan consultant UPD Consulting, primarily monitors the site and collects feedback.
“One of the most important pieces we’ve seen is providing a two-way conversation for those participants,” Grohmann said. “When people are submitting their ideas, they want to know someone else is on the other line and listening to what’s being said.”