Wright City R-II School District leaders took advantage of a new survey tool recently to assess patron perceptions of school strengths and weaknesses.
The results were presented to the school board during its December meeting.
“New this year with our CSD (Cooperating School Districts) membership was the ability to do a brief online survey at no cost,” said Superintendent Chris Gaines. “We wanted to take advantage of this to help us gain insights into perceptions in the community.”
The online survey posed questions in 16 areas, and was administered in November. A total of 143 respondents in the community participated in the survey, with the strong majority of respondents being parents of current students in the district.
“The results ended up being more along the lines of a parent satisfaction survey than a survey of total community opinion,” administrators noted in a written report. “Nonetheless, this data is still a valuable opportunity to review the thoughts and opinions of those who choose to take part.”
Leaders characterized the findings as a mix of satisfaction in some areas and concern in others.
Patrons gave the district their highest marks in safety and technology, while the lowest marks came in the area of preparing students for college, vocational training and employment, Gaines told the board.
Nearly a quarter (23 percent) answered, “Don’t Know” to the question of how well the school is preparing students for the next step in their future after graduation.
About 70 percent of patrons gave the district an A or B grade in technology available to students, and 77 percent of respondents gave the school an A or B in providing a safe environment for students.
Safety was the only area to achieve an average grade of “B” or better among categories, including people, program, facility and district/patron relationship and the district’s overall performance. Most of the other grades were at or near the midpoint between a “B” and “C,” the report cited.
Sixty-two percent gave either an A or B to the school for quality of education. Eighteen percent gave the school an A for overall performance, and 37 percent graded the school at B. Thirty percent gave a C grade in this category.
The most frequently mentioned strengths included teachers and staff, small class sizes and quality education.
Sixty-five percent gave either A or B scores to teachers for their performance, and about the same number gave these same scores to school principals.
The survey indicated the appetite for district information is healthy. Six potential sources of district news are consulted “frequently” by at least 40 percent of the population who participated in the survey.
“Overall, the survey led us to some areas where we may want to do some beefing up on some parts of our website and perhaps a weekly or biweekly communication to parents and the community,” Gaines said.
According to the poll, some patrons said they believe that the district’s taxes are lower than in neighboring school districts, and that teacher pay also is lower.