Northeastern School District Superintendent Jody Nace sat in a classroom Tuesday with several people from the community. She started their discussion with one question.
"How can we improve our school district?" she asked.
"The curriculum is way too focused on the PSSA," replied Matthew Rayman, referring to Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. "Let the teachers teach the way that's best for the students, not teach to the test."
Nace's inquiry was one of four questions district officials asked the public during Northeastern's town hall meeting at its middle school. Rayman and more than 40 other attendees formed four small groups that provided answers.
Other questions were:
*What makes Northeastern a great school district for our students?
*What challenges does the district face?
*How can we involve more community members in our schools?
Nace said this is the district's first time holding a town hall meeting. She said the public's answers will be posted Wednesday on the district's website at www.nesd.k12.pa.us.
The answers also will be used to help the district with its strategic planning project designed to improve the district's current practices and to prepare for the future, Nace said.
"We believe in the power of the community," she said. "We want to involve the whole community in educating our kids. We want face-to-face community contact."
Who was there? Attendees included parents, students, teachers, school board members and residents.
They complimented the district for a variety of things including for making improvements on Adequate Yearly Progress, and for effectively addressing the necessities of students with special needs.
For several attendees, the district challenges include providing quality education on a tight budget and helping teachers maintain good morale, as they keep up with academic requirements while class sizes increase.
To get the community more involved with the school district, Holly Kominsky suggested that the district continue holding town hall meetings and find ways to convince parents to attend school board meetings.
Kominsky, who has children attending district schools, said she started to attend board meetings regularly in January and better understands how the district works.
"It's important for taxpayers to know what's going on and how it affects them personally, financially and what it means for our children's education," she said.
School Board member Mike Redding said town hall participants expressed unique perspectives about the district and he plans to review the total list of suggestions.
"We have a large amount of valuable input from the community," he said. "I'm really interested in seeing how we can increase community involvement."
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or email@example.com.