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Elmbrook receives passing grades

July 16, 2014

A majority of parents, students and staff are satisfied with the Elmbrook School District, though some frustrations were expressed in a survey reviewed Tuesday, July 16, by the school board.

The survey was distributed throughout the district to parents, students and staff. Results showed that 95 percent of parents, 89 percent of students and 86 percent of the staff in the district reported being satisfied.

The 2014 survey is in its eighth year and this year garnered its best-ever response. More than 5,000 students, 750 staff and 1,500 parents returned responses, said Chris Thompson, chief information officer for the school district, at the board meeting.

"This year was the greatest participation we've had," Thompson said.

Elmbrook students gave their teachers and schools high marks almost across the board. More than 90 percent of students believe that teachers hold high expectations for student learning and reported feeling satisfied with the curriculum and activities offered.

Another key finding showed that 86 percent of parents feel informed about important school district issues, in part due to the launch of a new website and weekly e-newsletters that were distributed during the 2013-14 school year. In addition, 88 percent of parents said the board of education and superintendent were reflecting the district's mission.

Of the staff members who responded, 91 percent said their work gives them a feeling of accomplishment, while 90 percent said their job makes good use of their skills and abilities.

But there's also room for improvement.

Half of the district's teachers said pay and benefits aren't up to par. Only 50 percent of the staff said they're satisfied with their pay, 61 percent with benefits, and 56 percent with their role in decision making.

It's not wavering their commitment, though – 100 percent said they remain committed to the district's success.

Thomas Gehl, president of the Elmbrook Board of Education, pointed out that more than one-third of the staff doesn't feel as though the school board is willing to listen to their needs. Additionally, 43 percent said they don't trust that the board will make decisions in the best interest of the children.

"That was a sobering number to me," Gehl said. "I wanted to point it out because that's the lens to which they're viewing us. I think it's important for us to keep that in mind."

A number of average responses from some parties came in at 10 percent or more below the district mean, indicating lower rates of satisfaction.

For example, students expressed a modest rate of satisfaction, at 63 percent, when asked if they liked talking to their teachers about what they're learning in class. And only 45 percent of students think they're getting enough assistance from their teachers in learning about careers related to subject areas.The survey also focused on classroom cheating.

Just 64 percent of students responded that cheating rarely occurs in class. Additionally, 57 percent of students said they were able to manage their stress level.

Thompson said the district will use these responses, along with other input, and come up with a plan of action based on the survey.

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