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Community survey helps educational planning (04/29/2007)
By Paul Durand

The community survey conducted by the Winona Area Public school district provides the school board with valuable information to help guide planning and focus resources on improvements to teaching and learning. We value this input from the community and will use the data in our comprehensive planning process.

Periodic use of a scientific, random-sample survey to guide planning is a common planning strategy and is used by dozens of Minnesota school districts every year.

The survey was administered to a random sample of registered voters living within the school district and was drawn in such a way to generally mirror the demographics of the community as a whole.

The survey of 400 registered voters is quite precise with an error of measurement of approximately +/- 4.5%.

The survey was contracted through Springsted Incorporated, a public finance and consulting firm based in St. Paul. It was designed and administered by The Center for Community Opinion, which has done hundreds of such surveys for school districts, cities, libraries, community colleges, and other clients from New Jersey to California. The Center has done work for the Minnesota School Boards Association and dozens of Minnesota school districts.

The final report provides the school board with both summary data from all respondents and specific findings for subgroups such as parents, senior citizens, and other geographical and demographic groups.

The value of acquiring measurable educational planning data for the school board justified the investment by the school district, particularly in light of our upcoming comprehensive planning initiative.

We look forward to an opportunity to share and discuss results of the community survey with residents of the community, staff, and media and will do so concurrently while providing the final report to the school board.

The school board and administration are committed to improving communications between the district and community. Seeking the perspectives and opinions from the community through the survey is just one part of that ongoing effort.

Data from the survey will help the school board identify strategies and priorities to maximize the investment in our public schools, build on the excellent work done by our teachers and other staff, and ensure that all students are able to achieve their full potential in the Winona Area Schools.

The Winona Area Public Schools are committed to working in partnership with the community to provide students with the best possible public education with the dollars available. The community survey is just one strategy within the broader context of community engagement in this process. We value the input from the community and will use the data to plan and improve our schools.



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