Since they started more than a year ago on a search to find ways to bring and keep more young people to Stoughton, a committee of city and school district elected officials have used a recent UW study as a guide.

Now, they’re hoping to hire one of its main researchers to help them in their task.

Last month, members from the ad hoc committee comprised of members of the City Council, Stoughton Area School District and Chamber of Commerce met with Randy Stoecker, lead researcher on the 2018 UW study “Gaining and Maintaining Young People in Rural Wisconsin Communities,” as well as Amanda Hoffman. As a graduate student, Hoffman conducted most of the interviews with people in dozens of communities.

Now working professionally, she’s interested in working with the group on a similar study on Stoughton, something committee co-chair Jonathon Coughlin told the Hub Friday is a “major step forward” for the group’s efforts.

“We found a potential partner to help us make sure we do a good job on those interviews,” he said. “I feel very lucky she was available. We have the help of the two people who did a significant amount of this research across the state, so I think that’s pretty cool.”

The district has been facing declining enrollment in the past decade, affecting state funding.

The project is part of the committee’s search to find “actionable suggestions” to present to the Council and school board this spring on how to attract and retain young families.

The next step, Coughlin said, is asking those two bodies for funding to hire Hoffman to help the committee conduct interviews and compile the results.

“If we can secure her help, I have full confidence the information we get out of this whole thing will be solid for the community,” Coughlin said

The committee is looking to talk with young people in the 18-40 age range living in Stoughton about what they like about the area, and what other young people might like.

Coughlin said he expects they will take the rest of this month and “sometime into February” to do some marketing and find people to participate in the interviews. He said their goal is to conduct the “bulk” of the interviews by the end of March to give time to compile the results to bring to the school board and Council in May.

For more information on the project or to be interviewed, email Coughlin at jon.coughlin@stoughton.k12.wi.us

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.