By Murray Bishoff
Each year the Monett R-1 School District distributes survey questions to gauge how the public feels about the community's education product. Copies go home at parent-teacher nights, in school newsletters and in backpacks.
This year 519 surveys came back. At the December meeting of the R-1 Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann reviewed the compiled responses with some satisfaction.
A total of 98 percent of the respondents have children in the school system presently. The most answers, more than 200 each, came from Monett Elementary and Monett High School parents. More than 160 Central Park Elementary and Monett Intermediate parents also responded, while about 25 percent fewer Middle School parents responded.
Almost three-quarters of respondents found the quality of education at Monett schools is improving. Less than 3 percent felt Monett students were falling behind.
The surveys asked for a letter grade for school performance, and 88 percent rated the district at an A or B. A little over half said a B.
Almost a third of respondents felt the district was doing an excellent job preparing students with the knowledge and skills they will need to get a good paying job after graduation. Less than 13 percent said the preparation was fair or poor.
Similarly, 85 percent of respondents said the district was doing a good or excellent job preparing students to succeed in college. Almost 90 percent felt the district was doing a good or excellent job preparing students to become worthy citizens and productive members of the community.
Nearly half thought the Monett district did a better job preparing high school graduates, compared to other school districts. Only 3 percent though Monett student were less prepared than in other districts.
Opinions were sought on a variety of topics:
* More than 90 percent of respondents said their children liked attending their school, and 95 percent said they knew how well their children were doing in class.
* Numbers dropped to 77 percent when asked if the district provided effective assistance for children having difficulty in school. One in six parents were neutral on this point.
* With the opening of the newly remodeled Monett Elementary School, sentiment that facilities are good or excellent shot up to 98 percent, a significant improvement from the previous year, said Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann.
* The Southwest Area Career Center had the highest rating, with 71 percent viewing its resources as excellent. Only about a third of parents gave an excellent rating to the two campuses that have not undergone major renovations in the past decade, Central Park Elementary and Monett Middle School.
* Three-quarters of respondents felt the community was providing enough money for the district to do a good job. Less than 3 percent felt funding needed to be improved.
* Almost 90 percent of respondents believed the district encourages parental involvement, while 85 percent acknowledged receiving suggestions about how to help students at home. Almost 88 percent considered themselves partners with the school in their child's education.
* Over 92 percent said they knew what teachers expected from students in school, and 95 percent said they believed teachers expected very good work from their children.
* Over 90 percent said their child felt safe at school.
* According to the district's report card with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, a little over 30 percent of Monett students are classified as "non-white." Almost 17 percent of the surveys were answered by Hispanic families. Asked if children are taught respect for other cultures, 83 percent said agreed or agreed strongly.
* Almost two-thirds of respondents said they felt people in the community tend to trust each other. More than one out of four people took a neutral position on trust.
* Over 90 percent said the community was proud of their school.
* Almost 85 percent rated their child's teachers as good. Only three respondents, less than 1 percent, held a negative view.
* Views were also positive on career instruction, with almost three-quarters saying the school had helped their child establish an educational and career path. Almost a quarter had no opinion, leaving about 4 percent with a negative opinion. Over 93 percent felt the district provided up-to-date instructional resources and technology.
"We got really good feedback on the work done by the school board and our educators," said Jungmann. "It shows how we are good partners with the same vision. The survey gives us information for our planning."