Community members repeatedly have requested a return of the once-annual Douglas County School District parent and employee surveys.
School board president Kevin Larsen recently said the idea is not off the table, but that it must be thoroughly …
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School board president Kevin Larsen recently said the idea is not off the table, but that it must be thoroughly examined. A parent survey has not been done since 2012, and DCSD discounted those results as too small to be statistically valid.
Some parents believe the surveys are needed to gauge community satisfaction with the district's policies and direction, and they again asked for their return during the March 3 Board Unplugged meeting at Parker's Cimarron Middle School.
“It's something I think we could look at,” Larsen said after the meeting. “To just say we're going to do a survey, I think that's got to be very carefully considered. How do we do that so the results we get from it truly represent the whole community and have meaningful, valid results we can base some things on? It really needs to be cross sectional, representative of everybody's viewpoints.”
Larsen also noted the board was elected based on an education reform platform, and a survey's results likely wouldn't prompt a change in direction.
He also said the key components of DCSD's education reform — including pay-for-performance, the market-based pay scale and other policies — already are in place.
“I don't think we're going to be dealing with so many changes,” he said. “We're trying to just refine what we've already laid out.”
Regardless, the Strong Schools Coalition is among many who continue to advocate for a survey. Coalition president Laura Mutton said she'd like to see separate surveys given to parents, students, DCSD employees and community members.
“An election is not a survey,” she said. “I think we need a survey in order to provide transparency regarding the support for these initiatives, and also accountability that the changes being implemented are successful.
“With 70 percent of Douglas County residents not having children in the schools, parents are a minority. Parent voices have been lost with the addition of outside entities influencing our school board election.”
Mutton thinks a survey is particularly needed given the controversy surrounding the board's policies and what she views as one-way communication from the district to the community.
“I would say our community is more divided than ever, and it's really hurting our schools,” she said. “It's time we work together and restore that trust in our school district; surveys are a critical step in that process.”
DCSD, she noted, “should be accountable to taxpayers about what the district is doing.”
“We keep on hearing it's going to be done,” she said. “I think people are getting frustrated by that same response. We really need a timeline and a commitment.”
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