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Community survey confirms ISD 200 is on the right track

Hastings Public Schools recently released the results to a community survey that was done to get feedback about the current direction of the education system. The survey was sent out this fall as a way for parents, staff and community members to participate in the process of Vision 2025, Hastings Public Schools' plan for continuous improvement.

There were a total of 483 survey responses collected after it had been promoted on the website, through parent communications and at conferences. Jennifer Reichel, director of teaching and learning at District 200, said the district was pleased by the number of participants who completed the survey.

"The community input has affirmed many of the plans and initiatives we've already put in place and will help guide us as we work toward continuous improvement in all aspects of our district including safety, wellness, academics, technology and communication," Reichel said.

Some of those plans Reichel referred to relate to Vision 2025, an effort to identify changing values and visions for the district. The top priorities for Vision 2025 are academics, wellness and technology.

Superintendent Tim Collins agreed with Reichel that the survey affirmed the direction and plans of Vision 2025. He said that in addition, the survey gave the school district a variety of ideas to reflect upon as it moves forward, especially involving the top three priorities in the Vision 2025 plan.

There were several open-ended questions in the survey, and Collins said he went through each of the hundreds of comments, some of which said the district is doing a great job and some of which said the opposite. Collins said that the district would not be able to follow through on all the suggestions made, as some of them would not be feasible due to budget, staffing or other limitations.

Survey highlights

Relating to school communications, the top-three categories participants wanted to hear from the district about are academics, technology and the budget. About 56 percent of participants wanted to hear about the school district initiatives and updates once per month, about 16 percent wanted to hear once per week, about 28 percent wanted to be contacted only when there is new information and less than 1 percent wanted to hear from the district once per day.

More than 98 percent of participants said they feel students are very safe in District 200 schools or are mostly safe. Less than 2 percent said the students are not safe in District 200 schools.

The top three areas of content outside of core academics that survey participants wanted students to have in District 200 were technology, music and integrated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). However, when the same question results are split between parents and staff, the outcome is a little different. Teachers were very much in favor of music and made that their top choice. Parents, on the other hand, had technology or art as their top priority; elementary school parents preferred art with music ranked third, middle school parents preferred technology with music ranked fourth, and high school parents preferred technology with music ranked fifth.

The survey asked participants whether or not they would support a future tax levy related to technology. This would address the cost of technology devices, infrastructure and online materials. Eighty-three percent of participants said they would be highly or moderately likely to support a levy for this use. About 12 percent said they would be unlikely to support, while less than 5 percent did not live in the community and would be unable to vote.

Collins said he thinks participants in the survey appreciated the opportunity to have their voice heard. Their feeling of appreciation gives the school district direction to conduct shorter and more specific surveys in the future, he said.

Reichel said the survey results have been shared with the district administration team and they will use the feedback they received to develop future plans. The survey information has been one of those ways to keep a forward looking picture in mind while planning in the Vision 2025 group.

For full survey results, visit the school district website at www.hastings.k12.mn.us and click on Vision 2025 Survey Results under the news section. The district is trying to grow community involvement with Vision 2025. For more information on how to get involved, contact Deanna Werner at 651-480-7002 or dwerner@hastings.k12.mn.us.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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