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Positive responses more frequent on surveys

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 4:57 a.m. CDT

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Overall, the teachers of Morris Elementary School District 54 are satisfied with the climate and culture of their school district, according to an internal survey taken by all of the teachers.

This survey results, as well as those from one taken by students’ parents, were shared at the district’s regular board meeting held Tuesday. The meeting was not held Monday due to the President’s Day holiday.

White Oak Elementary School Principal Chris Maier gave the board a presentation on the surveys, said Superintendent Teri Shaw Wednesday.

This was the third year for the Staff Climate & Culture survey that all of the 79 members of the certified staff from White Oak and Shabbona schools take. The district uses the resulting data to improve, said Shaw.

Last year, a Climate and Culture Team was created to take a closer look at the survey questions, removing some and adding others to gain more specifics.

This year, none of the answers fell under 50 percent of the teachers answering in favor of the district. The district previously considered answers that fell under the 50 percent as “actionable,” meaning action would be taken to fix the problem. Because none fell under 50 percent, the district has raised the actionable percentage to anything below 65 percent.

Of 46 items on the survey, 44 improved. Five items are considered actionable, said Shaw. About 63 percent of the teachers answered that they agreed the district effectively handles student discipline and behavioral problems. About 62 percent agreed it clearly communicates results of disciplinary actions to the staff.

In regards to the leadership of the district, which includes the superintendent and the Board of Education, about 63 percent said the leadership cares about its people and about 54 percent feel they have made decisions based on the best interest of the staff. Some of this displeasure comes from budget cuts forcing the district to make difficult decisions, said Shaw.

The last item under 65 percent was also about the leadership. About 62 percent said the board and superintendent responded appropriately to important external issues.

The categories of the survey of the district’s strategic plan areas: student development, curriculum, communication and community, staff, vision and educational leadership.

The district considers it a success if the category had an average of 80 percent or more strongly agreeing or agreeing with the questions in the category. The only category under 80 percent was educational leadership at 71.1 percent.

“Although this category is under 80 percent, there was still significant growth because there was a 20-percent growth over last year,” Shaw said.

To continue to improve its educational leadership, the board has instituted an action plan. It has created a district leadership team consisting of administrative team members and teacher union leadership. In addition, there will be monthly meetings between the superintendent and staff.

The parent survey, the Safe & Supportive Schools Survey, was taken by 215 parents this year, said Shaw. Last year, about 115 parents took it. The data this year was comparable to last year’s survey results.

“It was very positive,” said Shaw.

The amount of questions with 90 percent of the answers reflecting the parents strongly agreed or agreed with the district’s actions increased this year.

When asked about recommendations for future programs, a majority wanted to see a gifted program, a science/technology club, and a beginning band program.

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