NORTH CANTON  The first of two Community Dialogue meetings for North Canton City Schools was held Dec. 14 in the Hoover High School commons area. While the temperatures were dropping lower by the hour outside, the commons area was packed with residents, teachers, staff members and school board members taking part in determining the future of the district.

Superintendent Jeff Wendorf said the meetings are important to the entire process of determining how the district can best serve students in the near and distant future. This meeting followed a community Futures Conference held in November.

"This first meeting was to get everyone together and get them thinking outside of the box when it comes to what the student of the future looks like," Wendorf said. "Tonight’s Community Dialogue meeting is to continue getting feedback from the community through surveys. We asked for volunteers for a steering committee at the last meeting and we had 40 people join the committee. We’re thrilled to have so many people who want to be involved with the decision-making process."

For those unable to attend the Dialogue meeting, the information presented and a survey is available online at www.dejongrichter.com/nccs through January 2, 2017. Results from the first meeting and the completed surveys will be compiled and presented by the steering committee at a third meeting scheduled for Feb. 21.

As with the Conference meeting, attendees at the Dec. 14 meeting were seated at large round tables and were asked to complete the survey individually and then come together and complete a survey with consensus among all at the table.

Below are just a few of the questions listed on the multiple-choice survey.

- When choosing a school for your child, which is most important? Choose the top four.

- Do you believe updated/newer facilities strengthen our community and make it a better place to live?

- How well do you believe our facilities currently align with the education needs to be delivered in the future?

- How many total school sites do you believe the district should operate?

- The District offers a wide range of services/programs for students. In your opinion, where should these services be located in the District?

Scott Leopold, an educational consultant from Dejong Richter, led the meeting. He began with giving demographics about the district, including enrollment information, facilities in the district and district owned land.

One of the items presented is that enrollment at the district has decreased from 4,972 in 2006-07 to 4,480 in 2015-16. He also displayed a graph that shows where students live (see box)

Leopold also displayed aerial photos of each of the school buildings and the land surrounding each school. His presentation can also be found at www.dejongrichter.com/nccs.

Leopold said the community meetings and completing the surveys are important parts in the process of the building a master plan for the district.

"The process is open and transparent and the results of meetings will become a baseline for the big picture, the feedback helps to narrow the focus of the master plan," Leopold said.

The next and final meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the commons area of Hoover High School. The steering committee will continue to collect feedback from the community during the February meeting so that they can develop recommendations to make to the North Canton City Schools Board of Education during the March 15 regular board meeting.