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School board discusses results of 2012 community survey

By Staff | May 15, 2012

The results of the 2012 Community Survey, Have Your Voice Heard, were discussed during the Lee County School District’s briefing meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Amie Rapaport, project director for Gibson Consulting Group, provided an in-depth presentation of what the findings were for the survey that was administered in February. The survey addressed four areas – school assignment, preparedness for college and the work force, programs and services and parent involvement.

The adult responses for the survey initially amounted 10,164, which decreased to 9,818 responses after certain data was eliminated. Rapaport said 219 responses contained missing data, one did not live in Lee County, 11 were under 18 years old and 115 were potentially duplicates.

“For a community of this size, we needed approximately 2,000 responses to be statistically reliable,” she said.

The student survey included 13,296 responses initially. After 434 completed response in non-targeted areas, 22 answers only had demographic questions answers were eliminated the grand total was 12,840 responses.

School assignment was the first topic discussed.

The survey shared that adults felt that students should stay in the same school for all grades within that school, which was the same across all subgroups. Students, on the other hand, felt that it was important to attend schools that offered targeted programs, which matched their interest.

Both responses leaned towards the advantages of a choice system.

Preparedness for college and the workforce results were discussed next.

Adults chose STEM focused curriculum as the dominant program of interest for them, while students chose technology focused instruction, as well as fine and performing arts programs.

As far as parent involvement, adults believe the district provides sufficient opportunities for them to get involved in the schools. With that being said, adults want to see increased communication between teachers and parents. The students agreed that they want to see the same increase in communication.

Other areas of communication include better publicizing of information and more advance notification of events and activities taking place. Methods of technology were also touched upon to improve communication.

Board member Don Armstrong said he has not been in support of the survey from the get go, and he provided many reasons why he was opposed to it.

For starters, Armstrong said, on average a person only takes 19 seconds per questions to answer, which was just one small quirk with the survey. He also mentioned that 120 responses were taken out of the data analysis because they were from out-of-county residents.

“Our out-of-county residents are still taxpayers here, so it is very important,” Armstrong said.

Another portion of the survey that raised concern with him dealt with open ended questions. The contract, Armstrong stated, included 1,000 open ended questions that would be analyzed. He said he was upset that Gibson Consulting Group came back and asked for more money to analyze more open ended questions.

Rapaport told Armstrong that the 120 were kicked out of the analysis because the district wanted the survey of only Lee County residents. In terms of more money being asked from the district for open ended questions, she said when the data came in and there were 10,000 open ended responses, the district said they wanted all the responses to be analyzed.

Board member Thomas Scott said he was not surprised by any of the responses because he did not have any preconceived ideas of what might be presented. Although there was a lot of data to digest, he said he believes it is very informative in a lot of ways.

“I think this is pretty solid stuff,” Scott said. “I think it points out some wide differences in opinion in our community – age related and to some small extent ethnicity related.”

He said the data presents some challenges, which will force five decisions (board members) to be made if they choose to do anything with the information presented.

“Now we have some information to allow us to look at stuff in pretty great detail and have hefty discussions on which way to go,” Scott said. “Students and parents are telling us something and our community at large is telling us something.”

He said he is anxious to digest all the information more fully.

Board member Jeanne Dozier said the people that came forth and provided the district with responses took them very seriously.

“We must now take it very seriously,” she said. “We have to put in a plan to provide the information to the community. It is time for us to do our work.”