Division reviews budget survey results

Shenandoah County Public Schools has gathered final results from a budget survey conducted in January about the development of the superintendent’s proposed 2017-2018 budget.

Survey responses were gathered Jan. 13-27 from 609 people. Of the respondents, 52 percent were school division employees and 48 percent were non-employees. The non-employees included parents with children in the school, citizens with no children in a public school and others.

The survey consisted of 33 questions in six areas, ranging from budget funding sources, instructional programs and salaries for staff.

Superintendent Mark Johnston said there were a few surprises when he reviewed the final results.

Exit survey data of teachers leaving the division cite a lack of support from community leaders. Johnston said the negativity toward teachers had a “deleterious effect on their feeling valued.”

Yet he said the survey results show that the community does not appear to show this sentiment toward teachers.

“As we are a people organization, I was also surprised at how respondents noted the value of serving students most in need while continuing to move ahead for everyone and the importance of investing in efforts to recruit and retain staff both among the non-employee responses and the employee responses and the widespread agreement on every issue.”

He added that another surprise was the number of respondents. He had expected a higher number of employee responses, but was surprised and pleased at the nearly equally split number of responses between staff and non-employees.

Final results showed high levels of support for instructional programs and all art programs. Results also showed respondents placed a higher value on teachers and staff recruitment and retention compared to facility needs.

Results showed that when asked if the respondent was aware that the total school division budget is made up of three distinct funds (operating, special and food service), 40 percent of respondents said no.

When asked if the respondent knew that 77 percent of the operating budget is allocated to instruction, 55 percent said no. Another financial question asked if respondents knew that the current budget is funded 52 percent from the state and 42 percent from the locality, and 59 percent said no.

When asked about programming needs, respondents ranked career and technical education, pre-kindergarten and technology program resources among the top three needs. They also ranked top three priorities for academic and extracurricular activities as classroom technology, arts and music instruction and STEM.

Another question asked if respondents knew the age of the school buses. Sixty-eight percent answered they did not know that 25 buses in the division exceed 15 years, beyond the state recommendation that buses be replaced every 15 years.

Respondents were also asked if they knew that of the 52 projects on the 2017-2018 Capital Improvement Plan, 20 projects, or 54 percent, are considered urgent. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they did not know this.

Johnston said that he isn’t sure at this point if the budget survey will be posted again next year.

“If not we will be sure to get feedback from a broad group of stakeholders as we work to develop the budget,” he said. “So, if not the survey, some other means of getting feedback.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com


On the Net

Detailed survey results can be found at https://tinyurl.com/FY18surveyresults.