District-wide facilities survey results show strong support for expanding elementary school space and STEM

A majority of DeForest Area School District residents would likely support a referendum that addresses space needs at the elementary school level, aging building issues, and traffic flow and safety concerns, according to the results of a district-wide facilities needs survey conducted earlier this month.

Preliminary survey results were shared with the district’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC) at their meeting on Dec. 15. Nearly 1,700 residents and staff, or 22 percent, responded to the survey, designed and administered by School Perceptions, an independent research firm from Slinger, Wis. with expertise in conducting community surveys.

Among the survey highlights were:

  • 81 percent of non-staff resident respondents supported the base plan, which included rebuilding Eagle Point Elementary School on the existing site, a major addition and renovation to Windsor Elementary School, and renovating Yahara Elementary School to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety and better monitor/control visitor access.
  • 64 percent of non-staff resident respondents would probably or definitely support renovating agriculture and technical education space at the high school and middle school to implement STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming.
  • The swimming pool project received 44 percent support among all residents, including 49 percent of parent residents;

“This is a tremendous response to the request for information for our community and shows the fabulous support of our schools as well as the value our community places on education,” Superintendent Dr. Susan Borden said. “Thank you to all survey respondents.”

Bill Foster, from School Perceptions, also shared with the Community Advisory Committee the top themes of the survey comments to date.  This included:

  • Most respondents feel District communication is excellent
  • There is concern regarding closing Morrisonville Elementary
  • In general, there is support for technology, Agri-science and STEM education but with some questions
  • Most would like the District to focus on academic areas before upgrading the pool
  • There were questions about the tax increase and how it is calculated

The survey was mailed to all district residents in early December. Residents were encouraged to take the survey online, and additional online access codes were distributed as needed. While the preliminary survey results were reported as of December 15, School Perceptions continues to take surveys through the end of December. A final report will be completed and presented to the Board of Education at a meeting on Monday, Jan. 5. The final survey results will also be posted on the District website.

According to Borden, the CAC discussed the concern about closing Morrisonville Elementary and is recommending to the School Board that the closing of Morrisonville be removed from their recommendation.

The school board will receive the recommendation of the CAC and begin discussing a possible resolution at the January 5 meeting, which will be held at the DeForest Area Public Library, beginning at 6:00 pm.

The School Board and district administration have been studying the facility needs of the districts’ schools for years, including extensively over the last year. In July 2014, the district sought out community members to participate in a potential six month commitment that would result in a final recommendation to the School Board regarding facilities.  Approximately 45 community members responded and all volunteers became a part of the Community Advisory Committee.  According to Borden, the committee represented a variety of important stakeholders groups.

“Since August 12, 2014 the CAC has been meeting to determine a best fit plan for the district to meet district needs for the next ten years, as directed by the School Board,” said Borden. “The work of the CAC included the study of a variety of district operations and expert analysis of our current state of the district including, but not limited to: comprehensive facility study, population and enrollment study, current and modern learning environment study, results of district-wide listening sessions, summary of the Morrisonville Task Force, information on special education in the district, information on costs, as well as time to develop options at each meeting. We are so very grateful for the thoughtful planning and thinking of the Community Advisory Committee the past few months.”

A summary of the work done to date, including much of the information studied by the CAC, is available on the school district’s website, www.deforestschools.org, under Current Topics.

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