Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Rochelle schools collecting feedback online

This survey from the New Rochelle School District sounds like a positive move, but the design is being criticized as restricting answer choices and failing to capture a sufficiently accurate scope of  views.
As the budget season nears, and with the prospect of a 2 percent cap on property tax on the horizon, New Rochelle school officials are asking the public to participate.
The district last week launched a six-question survey (one of the questions has eight parts) on its website, www.nred.org. It asks respondents to rate the importance of such issues as class size; preserving advanced-placement classes and electives like psychology; the use of up-to-date technology in class; and junior varsity and varsity athletics.....
"No school district in this state can shy away from the fact that there will need to be cuts and reductions," he said. "We're just trying to figure out where everybody stands."

Among the comments to the story:
I work as a research analyst and 6 questions won't really tell you anything
The Talk of the Sound blog labels the survey a "farce".
Here are the survey questions:
1. Please read each area on the left and select the description from the row above that best defines, for you, how important the area is for the schools and community.
I. Up-to-date technology in classrooms and its use in our schools
II. Current class sizes
III. Clubs at the MS and HS, like Math Club or Yearbook
IV. JV and Varsity Athletics
V. Middle School Athletics
VI. Band, Orchestra, Chorus and Art at the Elementary Level
VII. Preserving AP Classes, like Statistics or other advanced/honors classes
VIII. Preserving HS electives, like Psychology
a. Essential and critical to the school district’s mission
b. Very important to our mission and worth preserving at almost all costs
c. Good to have, but not essential for our district
d. Not important enough to preserve in a time of fiscal constraint
e. No opinion.
2. Do you have any comments about the importance of the categories listed above that you’d like to share?
3. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. You are a:
Parent/guardian of a current private school student
Community member without a child in school
Parent/guardian of current school age student
4. If you are a parent or student in the District, please indicate the grade level(s) you or your child(ren) attend.
Elementary School
Middle School
High School
5. Over the past 10 years, how would you describe your voting consistency with regard to school elections?
Poor – I have voted in only a small number of school elections
Average – I have voted in about half of the school elections
Exceptional – I have voted in every election
Awful – I have not voted in ANY school elections
Very Good – I have voted in most school elections
6. When you think about what motivates you to come to the polls for a school election, which answer best fits how you feel?
I am most motivated by taxes being raised or lowered.
I am most motivated by programs added, reduced, or eliminated.
I am most motivated by the Board of Education election.
I am most motivated by the desire to exercise the right to vote.


  1. They left out the biggest costs driving the budget, and the ones most parents would have had something to say about:
    Non-teaching teachers (coaches, support)
    Expensive curriculum that requires extensive remediation to compensate

    But Boards of Ed know that there's no support for the big stuff, but voters will show up in droves if you threaten to cut JV basketball or elementary art.

  2. Yes, Lynn, they don't really offer the whole range of choices, do they. The argument is that those other things are fixed and cannot be changed. Well, some voters may disagree.