Survey Says Parents Happy With Schools

Parents satisfied with quality of education within the district

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Parents are more satisfied with the Payson Unified School District than they were last year, according to survey results released during a Monday board meeting.

Ten categories ranging from feelings of safety at school to satisfaction with the quality of education rose at all schools except for a slight decline at Frontier Elementary School. That school’s overall level of parent satisfaction declined less than 1 percentage point to roughly 96 percent.

Payson High School, however, saw the most improvement, with scores jumping 2.5 percent to roughly 85 percent.

Elementary schools overall saw more positive responses than the middle school; and the middle school — at nearly 89 percent satisfaction — ranked above the high school.

Superintendent Casey O’Brien said that likely correlates with parents’ decreasing level of school involvement as children age. Increasing numbers of teachers make a child’s experience more “fragmented” as they enter higher grades, making it more difficult for parents to feel connected, he said.

“The numbers, I think, represent a high level of satisfaction with the district,” O’Brien told the board.

Julia Randall ranked the highest among elementary schools at nearly 98 percent satisfaction, with Payson Elementary close behind at roughly 97 percent.

Districtwide, parents said they were most satisfied — 97 percent — with the feeling of welcome when they visited a school. Parent satisfaction with the opportunity to communicate with teachers tied at 95 percent with the percentage of parents who reported that their children feel safe at school. Eighty-eight percent said they were satisfied with the quality of education.

Interestingly, the district received the worst feedback in overall teacher and school communication, but the opportunity to communicate with teachers tied for second out of 10 categories.

Districtwide, 83 percent of parents expressed satisfaction in overall communication. Payson Elementary ranked highest in that category, with 96 per cent of parents happy.

Julia Randall elicited a 93-percent positive response in overall communication, and Frontier saw a 5-percent drop to 89 percent. The middle school garnered a 79-percent positive response to communication, and the high school 73 percent.

O’Brien said he would work with a committee to develop school-specific plans to improve communication, with methods like improving Web sites, and increasing the frequency of letters from teachers to parents.

School board member Richard Meyer said the district historically lacked good communication. “There’s nothing wrong with bragging (about) how great you are,” he said.

The survey, conducted by the Tucson-based 1 to 1 Direct, was based on yes or no responses from parents. Meyer suggested that the surveyor use a scale of numbers in the future.

“Basically anything over 40 percent, people are going to say yes,” he said. The district could glean a more nuanced report with a scale, Meyer added.

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