I say that because (1) it has not been referenced by staff at all during any budget talks except that it occurred, (2) there is no analysis of the specific questions and (3) the comments section was not broken down at all.
However, I'll do it if only to let the Board know what was said.
What to keep in mind?
- This was a poorly design survey (numerous respondents said this so it's not just me).
- Judging from the answers, the district likely got a certain sub-set of parents/staff. That said, they did receive 2700 responses which is still pretty good.
- Some respondents clearly did not know certain things about the district so you have to keep that in mind. (It was things like not knowing that high school students only use Metro, APP is not a program at Garfield, etc.)
Demographics - Overwhelmingly parents (64.5%) following by teachers (23.8%). The lowest was student, followed by principals. By region it was uneven. NW and NE were about 28% each, followed by the Central at 16%, West Seattle by 13% and SE by 7%.
They asked questions in several groups: K-5 (1323 responses), 6-8(515 responses), 9-12 (534), district staff (non-principals)(1061 responses), community members (409 responses) and principals (33 responses). (I admit to leaving out the pre-school responses.)
It was interesting because all the groups voted nearly the same.
For School Services - everyone said number one for them was school and classroom support staff either teacher/student ratio followed by teacher training and PD or strong leadership in class and school. The least necessary was extra-curricular activities followed by equitable program offerings.
For District Services - the most important was timely and accurate school communication with parents and a virtual tie for second place were customer service functions/inclusion and collaboration with parents and community members with respect to the direction of the District and major initiatives. The least important was transportation. The only real variation here was number two which was either human resources (principals) or facilities management (6-8).
For the 2011-2012 budget, again, the groups very closely mirror each other.
Most important was well-developed curriculum and meaningful student assessments closely followed by strong leadership in the classroom, schools and support systems. The least important item ranked was efficient districtwide systems. Principals voted family and community engagement the least important. Hmm.
There were 4 Open Comments sections. The last one, Additional Comments, I didn't go through as it reflected much of what was already said in the other comments sections.
Part 1 -Please share with us any programs/activities not mentioned previously that you believe must be maintained during the 2011-2012 school year.
Number one (with a bullet) - Arts. It was mostly for music but clearly, clearly parents believe in and want arts in our schools for their children.
Number two - Advanced Learning. Yes, this was a surprise to me but it was interesting the number of people who spoke of ALOs. I think this may be a growing awareness of being able to offer extra rigor at every school. (Then again, it could be a large number of APP/Spectrum parents but I don't think so given the other comment sections.)
Far beyond (but still in large numbers) were school support staff: counselors, librarians, and PE.
Finally, the ever-popular lower class size.
Part 2 -It asked what top three programs/services that people wanted protected at their school. (I think it should have been what top three programs/services do you think should be protected at all schools.)
Number one (again) - Music and arts
Number two - Advanced Learning
Number three - librarian (followed closely by Special Ed services, counselor, PE teacher and nurse)
Number four - Remedial services (reading/math specialists or intervention)
Part 3 - This question asked what should be reduced or eliminated (if necessary) for 2011-2012.
This is where it got interesting. People really let fly here (but there were at least 25+ "none/don't know"). As I mentioned, some responses indicated that people did not know certain things about the district like that the enrollment plan IS now a neighborhood plan, high schoolers ride Metro, etc.
Number one - Central administration staff (more than 100 votes)
Number two - Sports (especially football) - not the same as PE, though
Number three - Transportation
Number four - MAP
Number five - Advanced Learning (a few of these responses were about transportation)
Number six - Academic coaches
Number seven - Music/art
Number eight - Assessments
Number nine - After-school activities
Those last three were in the teens but had more than 10 answers. Interesting to note: 13 votes to get rid of the Superintendent and 12 to get rid of TFA (and it hasn't even started).
So, take the specific questions and their responses and the open-ended comments and I see this:
- transportation is really low on the importance scale in terms of perceptions about a high-performing school. I suspect if they drastically cut transportation, you'd hear plenty of howls but boy, this survey would provide cover. That every single group in the specific questions said that transportation was the least important is interesting. Or maybe, people just take it for granted that it will be there.
- arts matter to people.
- non-academic extra curricular activities might have to go (at least for awhile). Again, the responses back this up. I'd feel sad for sure but there are savings to be had, there are boosters if it's that important and there are outside rec teams. I would support keeping low-cost intramurals like Ultimate Frisbee that have no refs and just a frisbee to play. (I'm not even sure the district pays anything for those sports.)
- again, clearly the respondents believe the important people are IN our schools and there are a high number of respondents who believe the central administration is bloated ( claimed "cuts" notwithstanding).