Archive for Tuesday, January 15, 2008

De Soto board approves questions for survey of district patrons

January 15, 2008, 6:59 p.m.

Updated: January 17, 2008, 12:00 a.m.

— The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education hopes patrons answer their phones in the next few weeks.

The board Monday approved 4-0 the finalized questions that will be included in the district's $13,800 scientific survey that will tell them what patrons want. Board member Randy Johnson said he abstained from the vote because he didn't approve of the survey from the beginning. Board president Janine Gracy and board member Jim Thomas were absent from the meeting.

The survey will be conducted by phone and calls will be from 7 to 9 p.m. during the week and from noon to 6 p.m. on the weekend. Only heads of households who are registered voters and who know they live in the district will be surveyed.

Ken DeSieghardt from DeSieghardt Strategic Communications designed the survey to pull information from voters that will guide the board on how to best manage the district's growth. The information would help the board form future bond issues. Patrons recently rejected two bond referendums, one in September 2007 and one in November 2006, that the board designed to address the district's rapid growth.

Some examples of information that will be gathered from the survey include whether patrons prefer more smaller schools or fewer larger schools and whether patrons prefer short-term, low-cost solutions or long-term high cost solutions.

To get a reliable sample, DeSieghardt said he would contact 400 patrons who would adequately represent the district. For example, he would contact more people in areas with more residents even if he already had a large enough sample, he said in November.

Some board members cited concerns that the 82-question survey would be too long. Although DeSieghardt agreed that it was a longer survey, he assured the board Monday that one person would not answer all 82 questions.

"No one will answer 82 questions I assure you because if you answer one a certain way you will skip to another and it would no longer apply to you," he said.

Board member Bill Fletcher also questioned how voters would know how many students are currently in a classroom or what the balance of spending is between academics, athletics and the arts.

DeSieghardt said the purpose of those questions is to find out more about patrons' perceptions of the district.

"If there is a belief that the classroom is too crowded whether it is accurate or not then that provides information," DeSieghardt said. "It's a matter of where do people perceive the district is right now, whether or not it is accurate."

The board is planning a special meeting for late February to hear the survey results, but no date has been set.

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