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updated: 12/4/2013 5:39 AM

St. Charles schools surveying parent satisfaction

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St. Charles Unit District 303 officials hope for a third straight year of record-breaking happy moms and dads when they unveil the 22nd annual parent satisfaction survey next Tuesday.

Most parents don't contact district officials unless they have a problem or are unhappy with something. The survey represents a chance for the district to see if the negativity of individual incidents is balanced by overall satisfaction. To that end, parents taking the survey have said they are more satisfied than ever with district services the past two school years.

More than 2,100 parents took the survey in each of the past years. A total of 80 percent of moms and dads said they were "very" or "mostly satisfied" with the district's offerings in 2011-2012. That record level of satisfaction was shattered last year when 84 percent of parents taking the survey clicked "very" or "mostly satisfied."

In general, parents of elementary school students report they are most satisfied. That satisfaction progressively wanes through the middle and high school years.

School board members use the results of this and other studies as triggers for policy changes. For instance, a couple of years ago parents said they did not like the food choices students had available during the school day. District staff members then formed a committee that included parents to explore the concerns.

The survey asks questions about all of the district's programs, including special education and extracurricular activities. It also surveys students and teachers about their satisfaction levels.

"The Parent Satisfaction Survey gives parents the opportunity to evaluate the range of services District 303 provides and also gives district administration valuable feedback on our efforts to meet the needs of our students and our community," said Mark Pomplun, executive director of assessment. "We have had record levels of participation by parents in the survey each of the last two years and would like to set another record this year. As the participation numbers increase, so does the accuracy of the data gathered."

The survey is anonymous and takes between 10 and 15 minutes to complete for most people. Parents are invited to complete one survey for each child they have in a district school. The survey will be available in both English and Spanish and made available on the district's website beginning next Tuesday. The results of the survey will be presented to school board members and the community in January or February.

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