BV survey cool to central elementary
Buckeye Valley Local School District residents prefer community-based elementary schools over a single, centralized elementary building, a recently conducted survey found.
The poll found that 59 percent of district residents feel it is important to have community-based elementary schools. Only 27 percent said it is more important to have a single elementary building.
“It’s obvious there are very few people supporting a centrally located elementary school,” board member Tom Kaelber said.
Of those residents who believe consolidating the elementary schools is a bad idea, 36 percent feel that way because of the transportation issues that would come with such a move. Another 10 percent said they simply prefer smaller schools.
When presented with the choice of one, two or three elementary buildings in the district, 40 percent said they would prefer the three-building option, including North Elementary, which was closed at the conclusion of the 2011-12 school year. Twenty-four percent of residents said they prefer a two-elementary option. Twenty percent of respondents said they favor a single elementary building.
Less than a majority, 49 percent, of respondents said they would be willing to pay additional property taxes for a three-building configuration. Forty-two percent said they would not be willing to increase their tax burden to pay for three elementary schools.
Residents are even less willing to pay for a centralized elementary building, with 53 percent saying they would oppose a ballot measure leading to the creation of a consolidated elementary school.
“I think we have to go with these results,” Kaelber said. “I don’t think there’s any other option. I think it’s the blueprint for our course of action.”
Other results were not as clear. While much has been made of the closing of North Elementary, nearly as many residents, 39 percent, support the decision as the 40 percent who oppose it.
Residents also were split on what to do with the three existing elementary buildings. In all three cases, renovations were favored narrowly over doing nothing.
The poll also found an overwhelming majority of residents — 67 percent — feel their community is going in the right direction. When asked about the direction of the school district, just 30 percent said it is on the right track while 44 percent said it is on the wrong track.
When asked to elaborate, 27 percent of respondents said they feel like the district “does not represent the community’s interest.” Another 15 percent said it was due to the “mismanagement of funds.”
Kaebler attributes those numbers to mistrust of the decision-makers in the district.
“Obviously, there is a huge distrust for this board and this administration,” he said.
Board president Tom Sheppard believes the low marks are because of a failure to properly communicate with district residents.
“There’s a misconception out there about our schools,” he said. “We have to do a better job of communicating to the community.”
The poll found that 34 percent of residents give the district positive marks when it comes to communication. Twenty-eight percent characterized those effort as “poor” or “very poor.”
District residents are also split on the district’s financial management, with 27 percent rating the effort as “excellent” or “good.” However, 28 percent labeled the financial management as “poor” or “very poor.”
While residents are not sold on the district’s financial performance, they do give the quality of the education students receive a high mark, with 65 percent rating it positive. Only 4 percent characterized the quality of education as negative.
A majority of Buckeye Valley residents, 52 percent, feel their property taxes are “pretty fair.” Forty-four percent said their property taxes are “too high.”
Residents also are not eager to increase their tax burdens. When given the option of making additional cuts or increasing revenue, 44 percent say the district should make more cuts and 38 percent said the district should boost revenue.
“I think we’ve done an excellent job of making cuts that have had a minimal effect on student education,” Sheppard said, and additional cuts likely would have an effect on educational opportunities.
The results will play a role in the decisions the board makes about facilities, but will only be one factor among many, according to Sheppard
“This is part of the information-gathering process for decision-making,” he said.
Board member Mike Bell echoed those sentiments.
“It’s not going to be the sole deciding factor,” he said.
The poll, conducted by Fallon Research Group, is based on telephone interviews with 401 randomly sampled registered voters in the district from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.89 percent.