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MSD collects public input

The telephone poll was the first step toward the district developing a plan for their secondary schools

 

December 20, 2017 | View PDF

Courtesy Graphic

Data from communications firm Strategies 360 pulled from a live telephone poll shows that a majority of respondents (71 percent believe the district needs additional funding.

The Marysville School District is planning for the future of their secondary schools and completed one of their first steps in gathering some public opinions.

The district plans to take this school year to decide on a plan.

These discussions came out of last year's debate about whether to keep Getchell with a Small Learning Community model or not, but that decision has implications on all of the district's secondary schools, so a wider approach to the issue was taken this year.

District officials hope to come out of this year's discussions with direction on a number of goals, said Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg.

"The information will help us decided whether we should continue with our Small Learning Communities," she said.

Marysville Getchell High School was designed with the idea that it would be four separate schools, or Small Learning Community, but over time those boundaries have degraded.

District officials said that students and staff want direction one way or the other on whether Getchell will be four schools or one.

When the district should next seek a bond to construct new schools is another goal.

"We will see if facilities are a priority for the parents, and if they are, consider a bond measure," she said.

Finally, officials hope to come up with a strong direction for the district's future.

"We, by the time we're all done with this, will have refreshed our strategic plan which is set to sunset in 2018," she said.

One of the first steps of this year's process was a telephone poll.

At a public meeting on Dec. 11, Strategies 360, a Seattle-based communications firm, talked about the results of a telephone poll they conducted this November about how the community feels about their school district.

This was a live telephone survey, which means it's conducted with a live person on both ends, said Cornelia Treptow, a senior research associate with Strategies 360.

The poll ended with 302 respondents. The margin of error was plus or minus 5.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

"It really was a community poll," said Berg, because even those who are not parents or who no longer had students in the district were polled.

"Because the whole community pays for schools, not just the parents," said Berg.

Overall "people are evenly split," in terms of satisfaction with the district, said Treptow. About 45 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the district while 41 percent said they were dissatisfied.

Without prompting 25 percent of respondents said that teachers were the most positive part of the district.

"Good teachers are a really important part of the work," said Treptow, "and they are really viewed positively by people,"

Again without prompting, respondents said the biggest challenges for the district were the learning environment and financial issues.

"Learning environment, which are things like class size and access to technology resources, was the top issue," said Treptow.

"Before we even teed them up to think about funding, there were about a third, 36 percent, of residents who brought up funding issues," she said.

Later, when directly asked, 71 percent of respondents felt the district needed additional funding.

"We work with a lot of districts and just having an understanding that the district does need more money is a good place to start from. Because sometimes we work with a district and people don't understand or see the need for additional funding," said Lesley Rogers, Strategies 360 senior vice president for education.

The biggest barriers for students were listed as poverty, which 24 percent of respondents mentioned, teachers/staff, which 21 percent of respondents mentioned, older school buildings, which 18 percent of respondents mentioned and lack of community support for education, which 18 percent of respondents mentioned.

About 96 percent of respondents agreed that access to technology is important for students.

"We were thrilled at the level of support for technology," said Berg.

"Access to technology seemed to be a critical priority for the community," she added.

Around 56 percent of respondents thought that facilities were 'poor' or 'just fair.'

"Not overwhelming enthusiasm, but good numbers nonetheless," said Treptow.

Despite Marysville School District enrollment not having increased for the past several years, 62 percent of respondents were under the impression that enrollment has been increasing.

"We were surprised, but also not surprised, that the community thought our schools were overcrowded," said Berg.

Part of the problem is because Snohomish County is growing people assume the district is, she said.

"Marysville is a growing city, but most of the growth is happening outside of the district's boundaries," said Berg. One of the most rapidly growing areas of the community, Lakewood, has their own school district.

Overall, Berg thought that the community agreed with the district on a lot of the core principles.

"They were very supportive of the district's mission," she said.

The next part of the district's process includes one-on-one interviews with community leaders, surveys for staff, students and parents, and an online survey open to the public.

"As we go through our next processes and meeting one-on-one with the community we can talk about this more, about what it means that poverty is a barrier for education and how we can get community support," said Rogers.

Courtesy Graphic

Data from communications firm Strategies 360 pulled from a live telephone poll shows that a majority of respondents (56 percent) believe the district's facilities are in just fair or poor condition.

"How do we come together? Not just as a school district, but as a whole community to make sure all students have a chance to succeed," she said.

The district plans to finish the process with a large public meeting and hopes to come up with a clear direction for the district's secondary schools this upcoming spring.

If any changes were made there would be a transition period, said Berg.

"Any decision we make would have a year of transition planning as well," she said. "You can't just flip a switch," to make changes."

The full poll results can be found at http://5il.co/2h6h and the full presentation from Strategies 360 can be found at http//5il.co/2h7r.

The Marysville School District's timeline of events for their secondary schools plan can be found at bit.ly/SecondaryPlanningWork17-18.

 

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