In order to repair its relationship with the Canal Fulton, Clinton and Lawrence Township community (CCLT), the Northwest Local School District (NWLSD) has a job to do making sure that CCLT folks are informed about the schools.
Most of the respondants to the Northwest Local Schools 2009 Community Survey (NWLS2009CS) conducted in June, 2009 feel they are informed about the local schools system.
But are they?
Area media have published numerous articles about the financial straits of the Northwest schools as a consequence of citizens' refusal to vote for operating levies for 10 successive tries and the Ohio Department of Education placing Northwest in its "fiscal caution" category of Ohio schools in financial trouble in July, 2008.
And yet as the following graph shows, nearly 7 out 10 survey respondents were "unaware" that Northwest schools were in financial distress.
Later in this series, the SCPR will show data from the NWLS2009CS showing that schools/citizen communication is not a Northwest school board and administration strength.
In the opinion of the SCPR, the only way the Northwest schools will make CCLT citizenry a "truly" informed body is for board members to "hit the road" and embark on a systematic and thorough person-to-person contact on an annual basis.
But will they do it?
Many if not most board members have an unrealistic take on the hard work that is inherent in being an effective board member. One of the hardest parts is finding a way (home visits, personal letters, e-mails, telephone calls and the like) to be in one-on-one contact with community members.
Numbers from this survey (which the SCPR does not believe incorporates much of the hard core resistance to a new operating levy and which the SCPR will publish in future volumes in this series), indicate a high amount of distrust of the Northwest board and administration from the "more school friendly part" of the CCLT community.
Unless and until the board makes a focused and continuing effort to get into a one-on-one dialogue with the community, the distrust is likely to persist and, perhaps, worsen.
Getting a levy passed in an environment of distrust in Northwest or in any school district very unlikely.