The results are starting to trickle in for a districtwide climate survey of the Millbrae Elementary School District spurred by concerns about a poor work environment for teachers, but officials and parents would like the data presented in a way that would let them know how each individual school is doing and be easier to read.
Results, disclosed last week, showed 512 parents, 77 certified faculty and 38 classified staff completed surveys, totaling 627 surveys taken in three groups. There were multiple themes across survey groups, including that equity is valued, trust and morale are low and the potential for improvement around a collaborative culture, according to the survey. Answers range from strongly disagree to strongly agree corresponds with scores of one to five for each question and the data is a bit difficult to understand, said board President Denis Fama.
“I’m trying to get that data formatted in a way that is more readable, understandable and comparable,” Fama said.
Parents wrote 128 negative comments related to the district governance team, with the most negative comments being related to boardsmanship, 29, and open, honest communication, 18. Certified faculty left 29 negative comments on governance, with the most complaints being related to trust, respect and value. Classified staff left 17 negative comments, with boardsmanship also being the biggest issue. Parents had 80 negative comments on district leadership, certified faculty had 28 negative comments and classified staff had 9 negative comments, according to data from Pivot Learning Partners, the group that conducted the surveys.
Fama is suggesting a format that would show questions and the percentages of answers in each question, so the results can be looked at all in one page.
“It’s a little bit early,” he said. “I want to have the whole board look at it in June. It’s a terrific guide for us to either sustain what we have done well or improve areas of concern. It’s a great planning document for the board.”
The survey of staff, parents and teachers was authorized by the district following tensions between the administration and teachers. These tensions were specifically ignited by the December 2013 resignation of Taylor Middle School Principal Lesley Martin, who some felt was intimidated by Superintendent Linda Luna and the school board into leaving. Teachers and parents expressed concern that the administration was making for a poor work environment, with the Millbrae Education Association and Classified School Employees Association going so far as to vote no confidence in Luna. The district did say it is making an effort to work more with teachers and staff.
Some parents felt it would have been a better idea to compile separate surveys for each school, noting it’s hard to know how their particular school is doing as the comments compiled are not categorized by school.
“This was really kind of to open up the box,” said Ida Jew of Pivot Learning Partners.
Originally, the survey was only supposed to be done at Taylor, but the administration decided it would be a good idea to get a read on the entire district climate.
One issue with the surveys was that some parents felt it was difficult to get to the online link. Additionally, some parents could have taken the survey more than once if they had children in more than one school in the district.
“The only thing not included is individual comments,” Jew said. “We wanted people to be able to say what they wanted to say without any fear of being tied back to somebody.”
The board is going to be studying the results more and determining next steps for setting my goals for this coming year, said Luna.
Survey questions were put together by a Taylor teacher, board Vice President Lynne Ferrario, Fama and Jew, putting in more than 100 man hours, Fama said.
“There are things we might have done differently undoubtedly,” he said. “That will be part of our report. The intention would be to do these (surveys) every couple of years, but I’m open to a redo next year.”
The contract, not to exceed $15,000, with Pivot extends through June 30.
Aside from a board meeting presentation of the data, presentations have already taken place at Taylor Middle School, Green Hills Elementary School and Meadows Elementary School. There will also be parent meetings 8:30 a.m. May 28 at Lomita Park Elementary School and 6 p.m. June 11 at Spring Valley Elementary School.
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