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Parents give District 833 'B' for student achievement, want more technology

Local residents attending the first of three School District 833 community meetings gave the district a 'B' for its efforts to improve student performance.

The 60 people who turned out for the meeting Wednesday at Park High School agreed that student achievement is the most important task for the district. Of those who attended, 75 percent identified themselves as parents.

"I can see there is room for improvement," Superintendent Mark Porter said of the 'B' grade.

Porter led the meeting and used technology to solicit feedback, which showed that parents want more technology for students and more emphasis on science and math.

Using remote controls given to those who attended, and a computer SMART board, participants gave anonymous responses to questions that will help the district proceed with revising its strategic plan, now in its fifth year.

Porter reviewed changes in the district in the past few years, including attendance boundaries, adding a third high school, junior highs to middle schools and ninth-graders moving to high school.

The district is one of eight to 10 districts across the state where the number of students is growing, Porter said, with 833 being the sixth largest district.

Last year, the district enrolled 235 new students, half of whom live outside district boundaries.

When questioned, parents agreed with the existing district mission statement to educate all learners and more than half said they didn't see the need to change it.

The quality of education is good, said 66 percent, and 58 percent said students getting well-balanced and comprehensive educations.

The district should continue to work on achieving a welcoming environment in schools and facilities, parents said, with nearly 90 percent responding that their students feel safe in schools.

Having good facilities is an important goal, they said, and 36 percent gave the district an 'A' and 45 percent gave it a 'B' for quality of facilities.

With technology, science and math at the top of the list, parents also agree that pre-school classes are important.

Efforts to include parents and the community in district decisions is important, parents said, and, as with responses to the other questions, the district got a 'B' for current efforts.

Half the parents said they feel well informed about what's happening in schools and, again, gave the district a 'B' for its current efforts to communicate.

Deviating from the 'B' grades, 46 percent of parents gave the district an 'A' for spending money wisely, outpacing most of the remainder who gave the district a 'B.'

Half of the respondents said district decision makers learn from their mistakes and, in answer to the next question, 40 percent said the district responds to those mistakes and makes changes.

If you go

Community meetings on "Pathways to Excellence" will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at Woodbury High School and Tuesday, March 1, at East Ridge High School.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600