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April 24, 2014

District shares technology survey feedback

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTES — After the district’s technology bond failed, district officials set out to gather some key information from voters who have children in the district, and those who do not.

The district shared the technology survey results with the public at the April 14 board meeting as the district gears up for another survey — the customer satisfaction survey.

“Ms. (Rebecca) Fannon has been working diligently in regards to pulling a lot of data once again from the surveys that we have put out publicly,” Harwood said. “She would like to share with you her findings from our first venture into surveys in the area of technology.”

Fannon, the district’s community relations specialist, reviewed the technology survey results with some positive feedback for the district. The district reiterated that each individual person’s results remain confidential.

“I was absolutely thrilled at the response that we had to the technology survey that was released,” Fannon said. “We had 1,147 unique IP addresses respond, which means if somebody was clever enough to go around to each of the computers in the library, then they may have filled out more than one, but they must have been very clever to have done so.”

“The vast majority of them were people who currently have children in the public school system, but when I pulled some cross tabs, I was really rather flabbergasted at how the trends with people who have children in the schools, and those who do not have children in the public schools, followed each other. There were really very few discrepancies, and when there were, they were very nominal.”

Of those who took the survey, more than 900 responded that they had voted in the technology bond election. However, more than 8,000 voters cast ballots regarding the technology bond.

The majority of the surveys were filled out by mothers or a mother and father together, Fannon said.

The survey touched on a number of aspects in terms of educational technology in the district and student use.

The survey revealed that more than 60 percent of respondents support infrastructure upgrades.

“They’re also supportive of classroom technology,” Fannon said, adding that it came in at about 60 percent in support.

“There was less support to the one-to-one student learning,” Fannon said of the one student, one device component. 

She said that the survey asked other questions about students using devices like laptops and tablets, which may reveal more about the issue.

For instance, 78 percent of those with students said that their children have devices they use at home for homework and school projects. When asked if they would be comfortable with the idea of bringing a device to school on a daily basis, 60 percent said they would, 17 percent said they would not and 23 percent responded that they were unsure.

“We’re need to do more investigating and digging a little deeper,” Fannon said. The purpose would be to discern why some respondents are unsure at this time.

The district asked if parents would be comfortable purchasing a device to bring to school for daily use, and 58 percent said yes — dependent on the cost of the device. For the same question, 40 percent said their answer would depend on the child’s age.

Because age-appropriateness was a concern during the technology bond proposal, the district was able to glean some information on that issue.

“When we asked them this question, middle school seems to be the trigger point where people feel more comfortable — perhaps upper elementary — for school use,” Fannon said.

When they asked about how respondents would like to see the district use technology, there was interest in all of the components listed on the survey. There was less interest in hybrid classes and flipped classrooms.

Fannon explained that the district might want to revisit those areas in the future to determine if it was an issue of people not knowing what it means to have a flipped or hybrid classroom. If that is the case, Fannon said they might need to define flipped classrooms and hybrid classes better.

One of the questions they asked concerned a ranking of what is important in terms of class sizes, maintaining programs or classroom technology.

“One of the things that I found brought up the most dialog when I was out in the community was our question 14, when we asked people to rank these in order of importance,” Fannon said.

“I can’t tell you how many people grabbed me at the Little League or at the Kroger and said, I didn’t really think about it this way,” Fannon said. “I didn’t think that we were going to have to make choices.

“This was something that really drove it home for people,” she said. 

When ranking those items, the overwhelming response was that classroom size was the most important, followed by maintaining programs and classroom technology — whether the respondent had children in the schools or not.

“One thing that took my blood pressure down about 20 points was question 17, which dealt with our hold harmless and sinking fund millages,” Fannon said.

These millage renewals will be on the November ballot. Fannon explained that the question stated that those millages make up 24 percent of the district’s operating budget and passing them would keep taxes at their current levels. 

When asked if they would be in favor of renewals, “75 percent said yes, and at that point, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in quite a few months,” Fannon said.

About 4 percent said they would not be in favor of renewal, and the remaining 21 percent were undecided.

Board Trustee Lois Valente said she was concerned about the fact that only 20 percent of respondents don’t have children in the district, which came in at 187 of the respondents.

“I suggest we look for a way to reach the other large percent of voters who do not have children in the district,” she said. “We have to find a way to get feedback from that portion of the community,” she said.

Harwood did say that they were looking at having a community forum that could help provide a way to get feedback, including from those who do not have children in the district at this time.

The district is gearing up to release its customer satisfaction survey April 28. That survey will be available online for a couple of weeks, with the results being shared at a future meeting.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.