Asked by strangers standing at their front doors what they want most from neighborhood schools, city residents got down to the basics.
Basic skills, that is.
Those were ranked at the top of 120 issues in the first-ever survey conducted regarding performance of the Coeur d’Alene School District.
“They’re saying, ‘We want high-quality math and English programs,”’ said Mic Armon, chairman of the district’s Long-Range Review Committee.
What the survey didn’t find, he said, was widespread discontent with the people running the show. Only 21 percent said they don’t trust the school board.
The survey was conducted last September with $5,000 in private funds. Armon and fellow committee member David Lindsay are expected to formally present the results to school board members in two weeks.
Armon hopes the survey will be repeated every two years so the district can stay in touch with residents’ wishes.
That’s especially important as the fastgrowing district looks for public support of bonds and levies, funded by property taxes, that are needed to build schools.
Of the 214 people interviewed, 44 percent had children in Coeur d’Alene schools, while 56 percent had children who weren’t in school.
Here’s a sprinkling of results from the 120-question survey:
Basic skills were ranked by 99.5 percent as important or very important. Some other program priorities included foreign languages, 77 percent; physical sciences, 95 percent; fine arts, 80 percent; program for the gifted, 86 percent; physical education, 79 percent.
Adding another elementary school in the northwest district topped the list of facilities improvements, with 68 percent of the “importance” vote. Other priorities include continued renovation of Coeur d’Alene High, 67 percent; a Dalton Elementary gymnasium and classroom addition, 59 and 56 percent, respectively; modernizing Lakes Middle School, 57 percent; building a district/community swimming pool, 49 percent.
Seventy percent said communication between the school board and community should be improved.
More people trust teachers than trust the school board or school superintendent.
Seventy-three percent said more money should be spent on instructional technology.
Only 17 percent said Kootenai County school districts should consolidate.
Sixty-eight percent said the state should provide more money for schools.
Fifty-five percent said Coeur d’Alene schools have improved in the last decade.
One regret of the survey-takers was that more people in the southeastern part of the city weren’t surveyed.
On the advice of experts, Armon said, they based the location of surveys on participation in the most recent school board election - only to realize that the race in which Edie Brooks was elected was not contested, so there were few votes cast there.