Board troubled by low survey response

Nicholas Donaldson

The Northwest Catholic District School Board reviewed the responses from its budget input survey at its monthly meeting last Tuesday (April 18).
The feedback was not quite what board wanted, however, with the biggest problem being the lack of respondents.
Only 47 surveys were completed this year, down from the 91 completed last year–and well below the number the board had hoped to receive.
Dryden trustee Al Cesiunas noted the board should be looking for a 70 percent return rate to statistically reflect the thoughts of the community.
Cesiunas figured the return rate was around 2.8 percent this year.
The survey was open from Feb. 20-March 6 to be completed online.
A link to the survey was e-mailed to parents, school council chairs/co-chairs, teachers, support staff, board office staff, administration, and trustees.
The survey also was posted on the board website.
Of the 47 respondents, 28 were from staff, 14 from parents, and the remaining five from community members.
Ideas from the board to encourage more respondents included filming a video, renaming the survey, and outlining what the survey accomplishes.
Changing the frequency of the survey to once every two years also was discussed at last Tuesday’s meeting.
“Any idea is a good idea because right now, whatever we’re doing isn’t working,” stressed board chair David Sharp.
Director of Education Rick Boisvert said he would check into what other boards are doing to get more feedback on their surveys.
Some of the comments received also concerned trustees and administration.
One particular comment from a parent claimed their daughter’s class has five iPads but their son’s classroom has no technology.
“That is not the case that there are classrooms with no technology,” noted Boisvert.
He believes some of the issues commented on, including staffing ratios and language programs, are as good–if not better–than the province average.
As such, Boisvert is concerned the strengths of the local Catholic board are not being presented to the community properly.
“I think we need to take a look at the way that we are communicating with parents and the community,” he remarked.
A draft copy of administrative procedures for suicide awareness, intervention, and post-intervention also was discussed at last Tuesday’s meeting.
Riley Keast, Mental Health Lead for the NCDSB, said the board had been informally following the protocol for the two years she has worked there, but it is good to have a documented procedure.
The document explains how to recognize at-risk students and what steps the staff member should take to help.
Intervention sequences and phone numbers specific to each school also are included.
“I think this is a very worthwhile project,” said Sharp.
“We probably should have done it 10 years ago,” he added.
Also last Tuesday, the board:
•awarded the New School Build Prime Consultant Services tender to Evans Bertrand Hill Wheeler Architecture Inc., done by electronic motion on April 12;
•presented its monthly recognition of excellence to Sacred Heart School secretary Maria Kirton;
•heard a report on amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act; and
•noted Catholic Education Week runs April 30-May 5.