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School board gets a glimpse at citizen survey data


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education got its first look at the results of the citizen survey it distributed to parents, students, and staff last fall. A snapshot of the results were shown in a power point presentation at a special board meeting Monday evening, by Jeff Gartner, a marketing researcher who works with the Kent Intermediate School District and other area schools.

According to Gartner, the survey was similar to one he has done for Rockford Public Schools for several years. 

For the Cedar Springs survey, about 577 parents answered the survey, along with 240 staff, and 296 students. Some of the things that came out are that the majority of students trust their teachers and other staff; that there is a high level of satisfaction by graduates of CSPS; that parents feel more connected and know teachers better in elementary school; that many staff commented that there is too much divisiveness, too much us vs. them; concerns about security; classroom sizes are too large; that staff would like more support and intervention to help resolve problems with students with behavioral and emotional issues; students would like content to be more relevant to them; and that parents and community are not as involved as  in other districts. Detailed results have not yet been distributed to board members and staff.

Security concerns have already been addressed with the buildings’ new secure entries. This happened after the survey was distributed. 

Gartner elaborated on the students wanting relevant content. “Training works if it’s relevant to you,” he explained. “You don’t necessarily have to change what’s taught, just make it relevant to them.”

Community involvement appeared to be a big challenge. 

“People, not just parents, are way more involved in other districts,” noted Gartner. He specifically mentioned Lowell and Rockford as having 70-80 percent involvement by the community. “How do you get people to be more involved with your school?” he asked the board. He talked about it being a place where people come to do things, and gave examples such as in an area district that is putting in a KDL library, or Forest Hills’ Aquatic Center, where people swim. 

“We can see there’s a disconnect there,” said Board Vice President Matt Shoffner at the end of the presentation. “This is the first step. Now we know where to go.”

So where do they go from here?  

“Now our Board of Education work begins in that we will analyze this data as a board, in conjunction with our district’s established Culture and Climate Committee of over 30 people from all positions in the district, with Dr. VanDuyn,” said Board President Heidi Reed. “We will be using multiple lenses and viewpoints to look at the data with Mr. David Hulings, from Hulings and Associates facilitating this process.  

“This is a collaborative process looking at the greater understanding of how we handle change in our educational world. By using different viewpoints, personality traits, historical issues and progressive forethought, Mr. Huling’s established work process will ensure measurable results. 

“It is exciting next step work for the community and school district as Dr. VanDuyn ties this data into our CSPS Mission/Vision statements and Goals for the CSPS district. We thank Dr. VanDuyn for coordinating this effort, as we all continue to work together towards the CSPS brand promise of Purpose, Potential and Pride.” 


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