Sunday, August 9, 2009
NORTHWEST SCHOOLS SERIES: VOLUME 1 - DID THE BOARD OF EDUCATION NEED TO SPEND $13,000 THEY DON'T HAVE TO FIGURE OUT THAT THEY HAVE A TRUST PROBLEM?
Recently, the Northwest schools decided it need to get out in the community to do a survey to document what almost certainly the board members already intuitively knew: Northwest schools have a community credibility problem.
So you have a school district on financial "life support" that somehow could did up $13,000 plus to learn what they already knew but did not get into the core of the opposition group of voters to the 10 time failed levies.
Over a period of time the SCPR is going to be slicing and dicing that survey for which the field work was done June 11 through June 13, 2009.
It might come to mind to SCPR readers that this series only pertains to Canal Fulton, Clinton and Lawrence Township readers of the blog.
But hold on a minute.
There are problems out there across Stark County with all of the 17 school districts. Jackson and Plain schools only recently passed "survivor" level levies. Soon they will be back for more. Minerva, Fairless and Norrtwest face immediate financial crises.
However, there are more waiting in the wings. Most likely all of the remaining districts with North Canton at the head of the list.
Lake schools have to be particularly nervous given the fact that they were bounced by the voters 70% to 30% on a school bond issue within the past year.
So all you readers need to be applying the lessons of this serious to your own school district.
BACK TO NORTHWEST.
To the SCPR, to get rejected by the voters in 10 straight elections is proof enough in and of itself to establish that the voters do not trust the judgment of school administrators and board members to take their word for it that more funds are needed to keep the schools afloat and that they will be spent judiciously and wisely.
The SCPR has scanned through through the "Northwest Local Schools 2009 Community Survey" (NLS2009CS) and over the coming weeks and, perhaps, months will go over the survey with a fine toothed comb.
What strikes the SCPR right out of the gate is how clearly "cherry-picked" the participants of the survey were. Obviously, this survey went in the main to school district constituents who support the schools election-in and election-out. Knowing him as yours truly does, yours truly can see from the make up the survey that Northwest superintendent William Stetler has the major role if not the only role in working with The Impact Group of Hudson, Ohio to put the survey together.
Stetler is a "pollyanish" type who is typical of superintendents these days who are more politician than they are administrator. No doubt there are strong political and public relations factors to getting school levies passed this day and age. However, it has come to a "political and public relations" approach because school administrators and board members have not stayed in close contact with the basic attitude of school district voters.
Also interesting is how The Impact Group describes itself, to wit:
The SCPR's initial take on this believed to be Stetler public relations/political based survey, is that it is not designed to get to the core of community dissatisfaction, but rather to finesse the matter enough to get a "survivor" levy passed.
Stetler really (in the opinion of the SCPR) wanted to try again this November to get a levy passed as witness by the calling of and holding of a special board meeting to air out reported "community interest" in going right back at it with a November effort even in the light a increased voter opposition in November, 2008.
But the Stetler "closet" (in the sense he referred to a phantom groundswell - noted by their absence at the August 5th "special" board meeting) effort failed and the board wisely decided to embark on a "rebuilding public trust" initiative before trying again.
The SCPR has already suggested a mechanism that the board (if they are up to a "roll of the sleeves" effort) can implement to really and truly turn things around in the school district so that passing levies will again be doable. Not easy, but doable.
The same can be done throughout Stark County. Alliance, Canton, Massillon, Jackson, Plain and Lake could be difficult because the populations are significantly larger than most Stark school districts but by employing focus, determination and persistence; even the larger school districts could really get into the nitty gritty of their constituents.
Even though is not impressed with the selected base of The Impact Group survey on the Northwest schools, in the coming time period the SCPR will be parsing the survey with an analysis of what it says about Northwest schools from a cherry-picked - on the whole - respondent group.