Time is running out to take the District of New Berlin’s community-wide survey. The survey is available now and will remain open until March 5th, according to the District’s winter newsletter mailed to district taxpayer addresses. To participate: go to the website www.survey2000.com. and enter the access number you’ll find on the back page of the newsletter, then take the survey. (For people without internet access, a copy of the survey could be obtained at the schools or District office)
The survey did not have unanimous support from the New Berlin School Board.
In October, the New Berlin School Board voted 5-2 to engage an independent firm called School Perceptions for the 2010 calendar year to work with the District on the survey project at a maximum cost of $15,000, not including postage. (Matt Thomas and Susan Manley cast the no votes)
In December, the New Berlin School Board discussed the community survey and approved it with some changes, by a 5-2 vote with Matt Thomas and Susan Manley casting the dissenting votes.
During board discussion, Matt Thomas raised many objections:
Complaining that the survey was not a “random sample”, Thomas questioned its validity. He argued that a random sample would be more representative of the whole.
Thomas made it clear he didn't care for the survey’s self-selective method of garnering opinions. He said the response rate could vary. Thomas told the Board, “Let’s not kid ourselves or pretend that this (survey) is scientifically valid.”
He contended the survey was unnecessary to get input/ascertain public perceptions because the District already had effective District-community communication: He referred to the election of school board members, District web site, Privilege of the Floor at meetings, District newsletter, emails, phone calls and letters from constituents, and Dr Kreutzer’s “financial road show”.
Thomas also argued that money could be better spent elsewhere. He said that money spent on some prior surveys was not worth the result they'd gotten. He labeled this survey a “want” rather than a “need” and argued that the District had some needs that weren’t being funded.
At the Oct. Board Meeting, a representative from School Perceptions maintained that the self-selective type survey that the District was considering (as opposed to doing a random sample) sends the message that “Everyone’s voice is important, we want to hear from everyone.”
Everyone? That sounds good. But in reality, the District intentionally sent out newsletters that contain only one access code to each taxed household/business establishment in the District. That access code can be used only once. If more than one person resides at the address, that’s too bad because this process allows only one survey to be taken per taxed household. Furthermore, the survey did not go to parents whose children attend NBPS by Open Enrollment. Aren’t their voices important? If the goal is improvement and the survey a means to get feedback, why exclude them?