In June, the School Board heard the results of the annual district community survey, which overall were positive and showed an upward trend in many areas. Presenter Peter Leatherman particularly highlighted that 91% of residents now rate the quality of education provided by the district as “good” or “excellent” (78% in 2014; 84% in 2015). Of those, 53% responded with excellent, a rating that is among the top five in the suburban Metro.
For the past several years, West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools (District 197) has contracted with Minneapolis-based research firm The Morris Leatherman Company to conduct a community survey of District 197 residents.
In addition to providing the School Board and administrators with valuable community feedback, items on the survey are used to inform future district initiatives and monitor progress on current projects.
Other highlights from the 2016 resident survey include:
- 92% of residents feel the community receives a good value for its investment in its public schools. (82% in 2014; 87% in 2015)
- 93% of residents are proud of District 197 schools and would recommend them to friends. (77% in 2014; 84% in 2015)
- 94% of residents trust the school board to do what is right for students. (84% in 2014; 87% in 2015)
- 98% of residents feel District 197 provides a safe and secure environment for students. (87% in 2014; 91% in 2015)
A sub-set of those surveyed included parents of currently enrolled students. Among district parents:
- 99% of parents rate the quality of education provided by District 197 as good or excellent.
- 99% of parents trust the School Board to do what’s right for students.
- 98% of parents feel the community receives a good value for its investment in its public schools.
- 99% of parents are proud of District 197 schools and would recommend them to friends.
- 100% of parents feel District 197 provides a safe and secure environment for students.
According to Leatherman, the majority of all District 197 residents believe the District spends tax money effectively and efficiently, and has spent past technology referendum funds responsibly. Among respondents, 74% agree the district is spending taxpayers’ money effectively (57% in 2014, 61% in 2015).
Further, 70% of residents (55% in 2015) rate the financial management of the district as good or excellent. According to Leatherman this strong rating places School District 197 among the top suburban public school districts in the Twin Cities.
The survey did show a misperception among some members of the community regarding their property taxes in comparison with neighboring districts. Forty six percent of residents responded that they considered the school portion of their property taxes to be somewhat or very high. In fact the amount of school district taxes paid by residents of District 197 is lower than neighboring and like-sized metro districts.
Following the presentation school board member Brenda Corbett commented, “It warms my heart to see that the efforts that the school board and the district have put in in the last several years through staff development, curriculum clarification and strengthening, and the tying of technology in a meaningful way to learning in the classroom are noticed and appreciated by the community. I want to thank all the staff who have worked so hard on this because I am just really proud of where we are and where we are going.”
The multi-lingual community survey was conducted in May 2016 through telephone interviews (cell phones and landlines) with 400 randomly selected district households. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 5%.
Watch Mr. Leatherman’s full report to the School Board online at https://vimeo.com/169723673 (starting at 5:20.00).