USD 257 votes on survey for new school

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February 15, 2014 - 12:00 AM

It takes a village to raise a child, and it helps to know what parents, teachers and all others in the school district think is important for students.
USD 257 school board members voted during a special meeting Thursday to move forward with a survey; the results will guide consideration of building one or more new schools for the district.
Patron Insight representative Rick Nobles presented to board members the details of the survey. Patron Insight provides strategic guidance to school districts through planning, research and communications. Board members want to pick up where they left off in 2008 by proposing a bond issue to improve facilities.
“We do a random dial telephone survey in your service area,” Nobles said.
The questionnaire contains three parts. The surveyor will ask if the person is willing to take a 10- to 12-minute survey. Then respondents are asked if they live in the school district, if they are head of household and if they are a registered voter. Positive responses lead to continuation of the conversation.
The first portion will ask if the person thinks the district is doing a good job and asks about their opinion of the overall quality of the district’s technology, buildings, safety, etc.
The second portion asks how a person receives information about the district, whether it be the district newsletter, local media or the school district’s website.
The third section asks whether the respondent is on the same page with the district’s goal of improving school facilities.
“They have to like the ideas that the school is looking to do,” Nobles explained.
Patron Insight research report will be about 40 pages. The results should be done in six weeks with the goal for a June bond issue.
“The goal is to provide you with as much information as possible,” Nobles said.
Since the phone survey is at random there is an online option for those who would like to voice their concerns. This would also get the opinion of staff members.
The cost of the survey is $16,000.

AFTER Nobles’ presentation board members weighed their options. Senate Bill 305 is on every school board’s radar right now. This bill would end state support for bond and interest obligations.
“Our needs would not change if this bond goes away,” board member Mark Burris said.
In 2008, the school board was on the verge of proposing an ambitious buidling program, but backed off when recession hit.
“You’ve been at this for a long time,” Jack Koehn, superintendent of schools, said. “If this bill passes, we could still get bonds, but it would be to fix current buildings.”
Burris agreed.
“We need to get it (the survey) out there,” he said.
The vote to hire Patron Insights was unanimous. A committee will put together questions for the questionnaire. Patron Insight could start within a week once it receives information from the committee.

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