Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Lower Cape Cod Regional School District Summit

In recent years, Outer and Lower Cape Cod school districts have been experiencing declines in student enrollment.  In fact, according to Cape Cody Today, Cape area school enrollment continues to fall at alarming rates, with Provincetown suffering the highest losses of students in recent years. In response to this trend, in 2009 Representative Sarah Peake convened a summit of school districts across eight towns to discuss and share ideas about best possible education models for the Outer and Lower Cape.  It was important to Rep. Peake that such a process be open, inclusive and maintain a regional focus. The Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC) was asked to design and facilitate a series of meetings for school officials other stakeholders in the Lower Cape Region supported by grant funding provided by the Cape Cod Economic Development Council and the Nauset Regional School District with a regionalization grant from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The initial meeting brought together the school superintendents and a representative from each of the school districts’ school committees.  Also attending this meeting with Representative Peake was Representative Cleon Turner, Chari for the Legislative Regional School Caucus, who throughout the day offered insights based on his state-wide perspective.  The summit helped participants to explore the strengths and challenges faced by schools and to identify areas for collaboration with affected stakeholders. The afternoon session included a panel discussion with the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education, Senator Rob O’Leary and Representative Marty Walz, together with Jeffrey Wolfson, DESE Associate Commissioner. These state-level officials engaged the group in exploring the opportunities and challenges faced by school districts. Several exciting ideas and recommendations came out of this initial meeting. A second meeting that included representatives from the towns’ select boards was held during which participants continued to collaborate on regional planning activities, expansion of stakeholder engagement, securing of demographic data and development of a community visioning process to create a future vision for the school districts.

The project concluded with a public forum at the Nauset Middle School which was attended by approximately 125 members of town boards and school committees, town and school administrators, educators, students and residents of the lower and outer Cape.  The forum was sponsored by the school districts of the Lower Cape and supported by grant funding from the MA DESE.  The forum introduced the community visioning process and presented education models for the Outer and Lower Cape.  A presentation was made by a demographer which was followed by small group discussions facilitated by MOPC on longer range considerations and models for regionalization.  MOPC and its affiliates continue to consult with and provide process management for collaborative stakeholder engagement in regionalization planning activities among school districts and other stakeholders on Cape Cod.  

Sources:

Peake, S. K. (April 14, 2009). News Advisory.

Sowers, P. (June 11, 2009). School regionalization forums try to stay ahead of pending Patrick edicts. Retrieved from http://www.wickedlocal.com/provincetown/news/x862904912/School-regionalization-forums-try-to-stay-ahead-of-pending-Patrick-edicts.

Goodrich, J. Summary of the April 13, 2009 Lower Cape School Summit.

Brooks, W. (August 1, 2012). 7,105 Students Lost Since 2001. Retrieved from
http://www.capecodtoday.com/article/2012/08/01/13954-cape-schools-lost-627-kids-year-7105-2001.