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Survey says ... Monroe schools in high regard
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MONROE - In recent surveys, community members and school staff indicated a generally high regard for the Monroe school district and support for possible future referendums.

Both surveys were conducted by research company School Perceptions. The company's president, Bill Foster, presented the results at a July school board meeting.

For more specifics on the results, read on:

Community Survey

The community survey, conducted in May, was sent to all residents within the district. More than 1,000 residents took the survey, with 963 taking it online and another 201 opting for the paper version. School Perceptions calculated a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent for the full sample.

A little background on the respondents:

• 24 percent are employees of the school district

• 63 percent have children who attend school in the district

• Of the respondents with school-aged children, 10 percent have their children attend elsewhere, including 4 percent at private or parochial school and 2 percent home-schooled.

Foster broke the respondents into three categories to analyze the results: district staff, parents of students (non-staff) and non-parent/non-staff community members.

For some questions, respondents were asked to rate their agreement with certain statements. The possible answers were: strongly disagree (1), disagree (2), agree (4) and strongly agree (5).

• For the statement "I am satisfied with how well Monroe students are prepared academically," school staff averaged 3.84, parents averaged 3.45 and community members averaged 3.53

• For "I am satisfied with how well Monroe students are prepared for life after high school," staff averaged 3.75; parents 3.37; community members 3.50

• For "I believe the District is heading in the right direction," staff averaged 3.70; parents 3.44; community members 3.34

Respondents were asked how they would rate Monroe compared to its neighboring districts. Sixty-three percent of staff, 48 percent of parents and 45 percent of the community group said Monroe is better or much better than its neighbors. Roughly one-third of each group rated Monroe as the same as other districts. Those who said Monroe is worse or much worse than its neighbors were a clear minority, with 17 percent of the non-parent/non-staff group, 15 percent of the parent group and six percent of the staff group.

Most - about 70 percent or more of each group - indicated they were sËatisfied or very satisfied with the district.

In questions about how well the district implemented parts of the District Improvement Plan, respondents gave the highest ratings to securing the PEP grant for physical education, increasing advanced placement class offerings and expanding Project Lead the Way, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math.

The areas with the lowest ratings were still determined, on average, to have had at least "fair" implementation by all groups. They included the early release schedule, additional support for students that struggle and the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program (PBIS). In most cases, district staff gave a higher implementation rating than the other two groups. PBIS is one of the three initiatives staff rated lower than did parents and community members.

A section of the survey asked respondents which programs they would want continued if budget issues forced the district to make cuts. Respondents were asked to pick up to eight of 16 options. Percentages below refer to the percentage of a group that included a particular option in their eight.

• Technical education, advanced placement/dual credit classes, band, Project Lead the Way and physical education received strong support across all respondent groups.

• 73 percent of staff prioritized physical education, compared to 61 percent of parents and 55 percent of community members.

• Almost 60 percent of the community group included agriculture in their top eight, while only 33 and 34 percent of the other groups did.

• On the lower end, health education, Spanish, family/consumer education and co-curricular activities (non-sports) received a range of support between 24 and 48 percent from each group.

• The respondent groups varied in their support of art, with 61 percent of staff, 52 percent of parents and 42 percent of the community group.

• German brought up the tail end with between 11 and 15 percent from the three groups.

Another question posed a similar issue, prompting respondents to choose up to six of 12 options they wouldn't want cut if the district had to cut back on operating expenses.

Items that garnered 50 percent or more of each group were: services to help students that have difficulty learning; competitive salaries/benefits to recruit/retain high-quality staff; school safety and security; and school facility cleaning and building maintenance.

The least popular choices, getting support from less than 40 percent of each group were: current middle/high school class sizes; transportation (the number of bus routes/average ride times); and parents/community communications.

The three groups voted roughly the same on most of the options, but a few items stood out with larger disparities between groups:

• 90 percent of the staff group prioritized competitive salaries while 60 and 69 percent of the other groups did the same.

• Services to help students who have difficulty learning garnered votes from 69 percent of the community group, 60 percent of parents and 51 percent of staff.

• Almost half of the parent and community groups chose "help students with career and college planning," but only 27 percent of staff chose it.

Respondents were also asked what advice they would give the district for future budget planning. Supplied answers ranged from "consider holding a referendum" for various reasons and "do not hold a referendum, continue to cut programs and services to balance the budget." They could check multiple answers.

• Staff showed the strongest support for referendums, with 84 percent choosing "consider holding a referendum to maintain current programs/services." Almost 60 percent of the community group and 52 percent of parents supported the same.

• Referendums to maintain building maintenance and to attract/retain quality staff received the most votes after the option to maintain current programs.

• The fewest votes from each group went to the "no referendum" option.

• 26 percent of parents and 18 percent of community members said they weren't sure or needed more information.

In a final question, most respondents indicated they would like the school district to send one newsletter per year rather than the current two.

Staff Survey

The staff survey was conducted in April. More than half of the 319 respondents have worked for the district for more than 10 years. Less than one-fifth, or 16 percent, have worked here for two years or less. Overall, staff indicated high job satisfaction and a high opinion of the district, its administration and the school board.

The survey asked respondents to rate their level of agreement to statements in 13 categories: change readiness, student achievement, engagement, communication, culture, work environment, health and wellness, development and recognition, compensation and benefits, building leadership, district administration, school board and overall satisfaction.

School Perceptions averaged the staff results and compared them to a peer group of 10 other similar Wisconsin school districts. Monroe's results were about the same as the peer group for slightly more than half of the 70 statements, but it fared better than its peers in about 47 percent. Monroe came out worse than its peers in only one statement.

Areas to note:

Change readiness

• 88 percent of respondents think the district will be able to develop and execute an improvement plan.

• 68 percent think the district has "a culture of open dialogue around difficult issues.

Student achievement

• 92 percent think the district offers a high-quality academic program.

• 58 percent of the respondents think student discipline is not handled in a consistent manner. This is where Monroe dipped below its peers. Some school board members and administrative staff said at a meeting Monday that they think this is connected to the implementation of PBIS, which staff gave a relatively low rating in the community survey.


• A large majority said they find their job personally satisfying (93 percent) and that they are proud of the district (92 percent).

• 75 percent said "it would take a lot" to get them to leave the district.

• 72 percent think the amount of work they're asked to do is reasonable.


• 68 percent feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions.


• 90 percent indicated that their department "works hard to find ways to improve."

Work environment

• Almost all respondents feel safe at work.

• 91 percent are satisfied with the tech support and resources available to them.

Compensation and benefits

• More than 80 percent said that they are satisfied with their benefits and that their benefits are competitive with similar jobs.

• 65 percent said they are satisfied with their overall pay.

• 57 percent think their pay is fair in relation to their job responsibilities.

• Despite 35 percent being dissatisfied with their pay, Monroe staff responded significantly more favorably to their compensation than did those in the peer group.

School board

• Most respondents think the school board presents a positive image to the community and agreed with the statement, "The school board appropriately balances the mission of the District with fiscal responsibility."

• Responses regarding the school board and district administration were significantly higher than those with the peer group.

Overall satisfaction

• 94 percent of staff agreed that Monroe is a good place to work.

• Monroe staff members are, on average, more satisfied with the financial management of the district than their peers are with their own districts.