Parents and teachers at Oak Park elementary school District 97 aren’t very pleased with the performance of the superintendent or the school board, according to the results of a climate survey the district administered last spring.

The numbers — 763 parents and 360 faculty members took this year’s online survey — were down somewhat from the previous parent/teacher survey in 2008, where roughly 1,200 parents and 485 teachers participated.

Among those who took this year’s survey, 59 percent rated the day-to-day performance of the school board as good or excellent. Supt. Albert Roberts’ rating was lower, with 54 percent marking his performance as good or excellent.

Parents had a more positive view of education in the district. Eighty-five percent gave a good or excellent rating to the quality of teaching and instruction. Academic programs received an 88 percent approval rating. Both parents and faculty gave high marks to classroom teachers in the district, with 91 percent rating their performance as good or excellent.

Communication with families and teachers has historically been an issue in the district, but the survey results indicate improvement. Eighty-two percent overall gave high marks to the district’s communications office. That percentage was nearly identical among parents alone.

Parents and teachers are also pleased with their building administrators and other staff. The day-to-day performance of administration and staff received a 78 percent and 89 percent approval rating respectively.

The survey was administered in April and the results are currently available on the district’s website. The board and superintendent discussed the results at the board’s Oct. 30 public meeting. Roberts stressed that they take the results very seriously, but he also stood up for the board.

“I’ve worked with 22 sets of boards over 22 years in education. With the exception of one or two, this is the most effective board I’ve ever worked with. And effective doesn’t always mean popular,” Roberts noted.

The superintendent added that making difficult decisions is not going to please everyone.

“I’ll always work to establish partnerships. That said, we need to face some significant challenges. I think the ratings are important. We all take that with us to say how can I be better tomorrow than I am today, but we don’t stop challenging.”

Several board members, meanwhile, viewed the results in different ways.

Jim Gates, a former D97 teacher, wished that the survey provided suggestions on how the board can improve.

“I need to know how I can serve my community better,” he said. “I need feedback from the people I am accountable for and serve in this community. If I can’t get that, then I can’t support a climate survey that basically tells me I’m not doing a good job.”

Chris Jasculca, the district’s communications and policy director, acknowledged that the survey asked for people’s opinions but could have done a better job in soliciting solutions. Bob Spatz agreed that better feedback was needed in order to better understand what their constituents want.

“Are they responding to an action that was taken or are they upset about decisions made?” Spatz asked. “There are many decisions that we’re going to make that aren’t going to be uniformly positive and are going to make some people unhappy.”

Board President Peter Barber was pleased that teachers and the curriculum ranked high but noted that this survey came a year after the successful passage of the district’s tax-hike referendum. He suggested that might be the cause for lower rankings of the board and superintendent. But Barber stressed that the district still needs to reach out and connect with constituents.


D97 spring 2012 climate survey results

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