Surveying perceptions

Parent survey shows areas of improvement, community concern

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— Moffat County High School band conductor John Bolton wants to spend time teaching students - not filling out paperwork.

"The more time I'm not doing bookkeeping is more time with the kids," he said.

At the same time, he doesn't want to fall out of touch with his students' parents.

Regular parent communication "keeps the waters settled," he said.

This year, Bolton found an answer to both these concerns.

By sending students' grades in weekly e-mails, he was able to save time and still keep parents in the know.

Exploring similar modern communication techniques was one consideration that arose from the high school parent survey conducted in the fall.

The survey allowed parents of high school students to sound off about school faculty, buildings and student development.

The survey is one way the school gauges public opinion and gathers information to create its yearly goals.

School administrators will share the survey results with the Parent Accountability Committee, the accreditation review team and school faculty and staff, Principal Jane Harmon said.

"It is definitely one source of evidence in our goal-setting process and will be used to set goals for the building for next year," she said.

"We hope to learn what perceptions are present in our community, and then we must evaluate the effectiveness of our communications and our programs."

A majority of parents - 55.8 percent of the 182 who responded - said their children feel safe at the school, the survey reported.

Yet, concerning enforcement of disciplinary processes and school lunches, some parents showed less than affirmative results.

When asked if disciplinary actions were fair and consistent, 31 percent of responders agreed that the school was on track. The same percentage maintained a neutral stance.

"Given the feedback in our survey, this is a major area for us to consider for goal development as a building," Harmon said.

Almost half of parents surveyed maintained a neutral stance toward the quality of school lunches - a response that surprised to the principal.

The school tries to retain a balance between healthy selections with "selections that students will, indeed, eat," she said.

In responding to other questions pertaining to curriculum, student needs, support services and climate, most parents gave the school a four on scale of one to five, with five being the highest. Such responses are common to the annual parent survey, Harmon said.

"It is not unusual to have some folks rate us extremely low, some rate us extremely high and many others who rate us in the midrange," she said.

The survey responses - specifically written responses - raised concerns about parent and teacher communications for the principal. Some parents said they wanted general information and notification of disciplinary actions taken on their students.

"Given the wealth of information that is available to parents, it may not be done in the ways that we reach parents," she said.

Currently, the school relies primarily on newsletters and mailings to communicate with parents. The school may begin using more high-tech options, including text messaging and online grade reporting, Harmon said.

Bolton agrees with this idea.

Providing a site where parents could view their child's grade in confidence and on their own time would simplify parent and teacher communication, he said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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