District 91 officials were somewhat befuddled by the results of a community survey and Superintendent Randolph Tinder suggested as much can be gleaned from the number of responses as from the comments themselves.
Out of 1,000 surveys that were handed to parents as they registered their children for school at the beginning of the year, only 53 were returned to the district. This small sampling of community input isn’t enough to base policy decisions on, Tinder said, and likely speaks to the overall satisfaction with which people view the schools.
“My opinion is there just aren’t any issues that the people are excited about,” Tinder said.
A complete accounting of the survey responses was presented to board members at their Nov. 9 meeting, and garnered little discussion. In contrast to the low participation rate for the survey, however, board members also saw an accounting of last month’s parent-teacher conferences. Between the schools, an average of nearly 89 percent of parents met with their child’s teacher.
At both Betsy Ross and Garfield elementary schools, 96 percent of the students saw at least one parent meet with their instructor. At Grant-White 87 percent of parents attended and 76 percent of Field Stevenson parents turned out.
Comparable statistics could not be compiled for the middle school because conferences are held in group settings. However, for the 344 students in the building, 187 group conferences were held.
With respect to the survey, Tinder noted that the more specific the survey question was, the more parents answered that they had “no opinion.” For example, of the 53 survey responses regarding seven extra curricular programs, an average of 32 parents replied that they had no opinion on the quality of that program.
Forty-six of the respondents reported they personally did not attend District 91 schools.
Aside from an apparent lack of pressing issues, Tinder attributed the poor response rate to the survey’s length. In all, the document is four printed pages with 55 questions. The superintendent suggested people may have been turned off by the size of the survey, but the district attempted to simplify the process.
“We made it pretty easy for people to do this,” Tinder said. “We handed it to them and they could send it back with their kid.”