Survey; A genuine tool or business as usual?
The School Board, at their meeting on September 12, approved the survey questions to be asked by the Morris Leatherman Company of Minneapolis. It was to be telephonic survey of approximately 400 people at random. It was to be completed within six weeks.
Many questions have surfaced since this company and survey were first suggested by the School Administration. Here are a few of them:
• Will only eligible voters be surveyed?
• With many people today having only cell phones (with no land line), how will they be reached?
• How will the random selection of phone numbers be made?
• Will this numbers only include personal/residence phones and no business phone numbers?
I suggested, as did many others, that the survey be mailed out to each eligible voter of the School District, instead of 400 random people by phone. I was told by a member of the Administration that only a small percentage of the voters would return the survey. That opinion, as far as I know, has no factual basis. The phone survey will cost between $14,500 and $18,000, at a minimum. The cost of printing and mailing 9,000 copies of the 7 page double-sided survey was quoted between $4,500 and $5,000. To get 400 returned responses (which would equal 400 random phone calls), it would only take 4-5% of the 9,000 eligible voters. I'm quite sure that after ⅔ of the voters turned down the last referendum there would be a much higher percent of responses.
Is the intent of the phone survey to give the Board and Administration information to pass their own agenda (referendum)? Many of the questions are very personal and directed towards what the Board wants to find out in order to pass the next referendum.
To take part in the survey you do not need to be an eligible voter of the School District. There is no check to verify if you live in the school district. Questions #27 asks if you opposed r supported the May 17th referendum. If you supported, no further questions; however if you opposed, you are asked 2-3 more questions of why you opposed with the land site covered by 2 questions. Didn't we already lay that to rest? Questions #32 asks how much you would be willing to pay in additional taxes per month (from $10 to $60 or more) to fund a referendum. This is done without any description of the referendum! Later, in questions #37 through #46, four options for a referendum are presented that the Board and Administration are considering. Three of these options are for construction of a new school (elementary for $49,000,000; middle school for $66,000,000; and high school for $80,000,000).
For the fourth option "construction of additions to elementary schools, $42,000,000" they give no specifics except the following:
• Remodel the Career and Technical Wing at the High School.
• Construct new gymnasium at the High School.
• Remove the portable classrooms at Rossman.
• Replace exterior of the Middle School and major maintenance projects.
• Replace parking lots at the district's schools.
All five of these items are in all four options in one form or another. It appears that the actual construction of additions to the elementary schools to alleviate or eliminate over-crowding is no longer a priority. I hope we are not being drawn down that same old path that the Board and Administration have advocated in the last three referendums. If the public were truly listened to, one of these options would be only "Construction of academic additions and a gymnasium at each elementary, Rossman and Roosevelt".
In a move to truly inform the public, I believe the Board and Administration should publish the actual raw data answers to the survey questions and not just their interpretation of the survey.