A Douglas County School District community survey, repeatedly requested by school board critics for the last couple years, is not planned anytime soon.
DCSD issued a request for potential survey vendors in June 2014, but the bid was not awarded …
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DCSD issued a request for potential survey vendors in June 2014, but the bid was not awarded “due to board decision not to proceed in the community survey effort,” according to Rocky Mountain E-Purchasing System. The online system provides local government agencies a way to notify vendors of bid opportunities.
School board president Kevin Larsen said the board is still considering the best way to conduct an effective survey.
“We’re still moving ahead but we’re doing it very deliberately,” he said. “There’s no never, but there’s no specific timetable. We are continuing to examine the right way to proceed.”
Larsen said the information from a survey could inform the district’s policies and vision.
“So we want to make sure that we get input from every part of the community, including parents, teachers, students and community members,” he said.
Douglas County resident Pat Crowley is disappointed.
“It shouldn’t take them that long; they’ve been promising it since the spring,” she said. “It’s been promised multiple times. And every other school district seems to be able to get a survey out.
“I’ve lived here 22 years and I want my voice heard. I’m disappointed that the community’s voice is not being heard.”
The district has not conducted its once-annual survey since 2012, and those results were deemed inconclusive because of a lower-than-desired response rate, according to DCSD.
Some parents said then the district was ignoring the results because they didn’t like responses critical of the voucher — or Choice Scholarship — program and the direction the district was headed in its efforts to reform education.
During a June 2014 board of education meeting, Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said staff would research costs and options for a third-party professional survey and return to the board with recommendations by early fall.
“I think it’s a great time to go out and gather feedback,” Fagen said then, noting DCSD was about to release an updated version of its strategic plan.
Audience members applauded the news.
During a Dec. 16 meeting at Buffalo Ridge Elementary, another parent repeated the survey request to district leaders there to talk about the principal’s resignation.
“I’d like to encourage the district to put into place a routine, anonymous survey,” said Kate Calhoon, adding teachers need “a layer of anonymity to speak freely.”
“We as parents have been asking for that … and have gotten pretty much dismissed,” she said. “That’s been pretty frustrating.”
DCSD assistant superintendent of elementary education Ted Knight said the state’s biannual teacher survey provides valuable information. The Colorado Department of Education will conduct the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning survey in February and March 2015.
“We get the data at the end, so it is completely anonymous,” he said.
Crowley said the TELL survey is not detailed enough.
“It doesn’t have any questions on it that are specific to upper administration of the school district, or the direction of the school district, or teachers’ opinions of the leadership at the district level,” she said. “It’s only at the individual school level. It’s not a fully comprehensive survey.”
Larsen said any future survey would be different from those DCSD did previously, which means the process is more time-consuming.
“We’ll be looking for information that can help us either continue what we’re doing, or look at what needs to be modified or communicated better so the public, people in the schools and the community at large can all feel engaged and part of this,” he said. “We’re taking our time and trying to do it really well.”
“I think it’s going to be very important to do a very thoughtful process to get a survey conducted that gives us that kind of comprehensive feedback. That’s why (we’re taking) the measured care and true deliberation.”
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