School board sends out community survey

In an effort to get public input into its goal setting process, the Ennis School Board is sending out a community and parent survey this week with students’ first quarter grades.

The survey was crafted by a community group of volunteers at the request of the school board, said committee member Mariah Oliver.

The idea was to take the current goals set by the school board and tweak them based on the survey results and community input, Oliver said.

The current goals for the school board include better communication with the community, improved student achievement and curriculum assessment and improvement, she said.

The school board is still working on developing a set of goals for the 2011-2012 school year, but the idea is to make a list of goals a dynamic document, said school board chairman Marc Glines.

“The goal is to find what the community might see that we don’t see,” Glines said. “It will be interesting to see if there’s something we’re missing, some ways to improve.”

The past year has been a contentious one for the Ennis School Board. They have faced a lawsuit over the funding of the new school building project and the contracts with their superintendent Doug Walsh.

This past summer, the Montana Teachers’ Retirement System determined the district had improperly paid Walsh as a contractor rather than a regular employee. The finding could mean the school district will owe more than $175,000 in unpaid benefits to the TRS. However, the district is appealing the decision.

Setting goals and involving the public will hopefully help with communication, Glines said.

“Our original idea is that these are things we’re going to work on until they’re completed,” he said. “Like most documents, it should be a living, breathing, working document.”

The survey going out this week will hopefully provide an avenue for communications, Oliver said.

“There’s not really a good place for parents or community members to talk to the school, whether it’s a complaint or a kudos or whatever it is, there’s not really a place for that,” she said. “Mostly I think the survey is a great way for everybody to start communicating.”

The survey asks responders to rate their satisfaction with curriculum, academic programs, adult education, public relations, teacher communication with parents and school communication with parents.

The board is looking for responses by Nov. 22. School board member Jim McNally is the liaison with the community group that helped create the survey. He was not available for comment on Tuesday.

The survey is available online here.

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