At the school board meeting on Nov. 14, Strategies 360, a nationwide communications firm, presented the findings of a recent scientific telephone poll of 301 Elmhurst Unit District 205 residents. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percentage points.
The poll found that 85 percent of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of education children receive, with 50 percent very satisfied. Consultants pointed out that this is significantly higher than results in other districts.
The poll included questions on a variety of topics, including instruction, operations, finances and facilities. The poll is part of Phase II of the Focus 205 process, an extensive effort over more than two years to elicit community input and feedback as part of the district's work to develop an operational plan.
Among other notable findings, 77 percent indicated that creating more opportunities for students related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, is a top/high priority. The next closest was outfitting more middle school classrooms so they are future and technology ready, supported by 61 percent.
This is consistent with Phase I Focus 205 findings. During a series of formal, community engagement sessions, the community identified adding Project Lead the Way to the curriculum among the top five priorities for the district to explore.
In an interactive Thought Exchange Survey, the community indicated that creating more STEM opportunities for students should be the district's top priority, with adding all-day kindergarten second.
The poll found that 81 percent of residents supported adding an optional all-day kindergarten program, with 51 percent strongly supporting the concept. Sixty-nine percent favored a model in which students who elect an all-day kindergarten option would attend their neighborhood school.
Sixty-six percent said that they would favor all-day kindergarten programs at their neighborhood school even if some minor boundary changes were required, provided that no current students were affected by any changes.
The report related to these poll results may be found at bit.ly/D205Poll.
The poll provided data on not only what parents think about these issues, but the larger District 205 community as well. There will be several other opportunities to engage staff, families and community members.
In addition to this poll, another Thought Exchange Survey is planned for the spring. An advisory committee also will be convened and town hall-style meetings announced, once the draft plan is available.
The district will continue to facilitate opportunities for community members to have their voices heard as it moves forward in the development of a master plan that will guide district decision-making in the areas of student achievement, sustainability and facilities.
• David Moyer is superintendent of Elmhurst Unit District 205. During the school year, his column appears monthly in Neighbor.