Emphasis on consolidation questioned
Recently all registered voters in the Mountain Lake Public School District received a survey from the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center (SMAC) at Southwest Minnesota State University-Marshall with the end result a comprehensive response, indicating the overall feelings of the community.
Several comments have been received by SMAC indicating that the primary focus of this survey – developed by SMAC -is on consolidation. According to Michael K. Rich, Ph.D., Executive Director of SMAC and Chair of the Department of Marketing, approximately 40% of the questions deal with various aspects of consolidation, an issue raised by local citizens during all of the previous public hearings conducted by SMAC. Questions about consolidation were included in the questionnaire because it is a concern of the community.
SMAC was retained by the public school board last spring in an effort to determine the attitudes and perceptions of the voting public following the defeat of the building bond referendum last December. One of the major complaints uncovered during the numerous public hearings and over 40 individual interviews with various individuals was that the school board did not communicate effectively with the public concerning various issues related to the bonding election. As a result, SMAC agreed to accomplish the following:
- Create a preliminary survey to learn about the community’s general perceptions about last year’s bonding referendum and to better understand the community’s attitudes about the future of the school.
- Assist in establishing and then mediate the “Building Task Force Committee” to insure impartiality in the discussions and decision process. This will facilitate all viewpoints receiving a fair hearing in the process.
- Create a second community survey to address public priorities and various levels of financial support among the district’s residents.
- Work in conjunction with the Building Task Force Committee to solicit RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for the items determined with the second survey responses.
- A third survey will then be developed that outlining the selected improvements and the dollar amount associated with each to determine public acceptance.
There is no relationship between this survey and those surveys previously distributed by the school district to the voting public. The content of this survey is an effort to determine the current understanding and feelings of the Mountain Lake community concerning their school.
What was the basis for the development of the current survey? Last spring an open invitation was extended to community members to attend focus group meetings conducted by SMAC to learn more about what happened during the building project. The information learned at these meetings was used to create the survey. Those who attended these meetings raised a number of concerns and issues including: costs, economy, project lists, process, communication, potential consolidation, enrollment and educational needs to name a few.
This survey is the first step in determining the overall views of the community concerning their public school. Results of this survey will be made available once the survey appears to have received all of the responses that are forthcoming.