ROCK SPRINGS — The Sweetwater County School District #1 Board of Trustees simply felt there wasn’t enough planning or time in the remainder of the school year to conduct a district-wide climate survey.
So following a public hearing, the board voted unanimously to reject funding for the $56,000 survey at a special meeting last night. The board considered hiring a firm, ACS Ventures, to find out how the district felt about itself and set goals for improvement.
The survey aimed to reach out to the community and district employees to gather input on the state of School District #1. But in the wake of the board rejecting a proposed four-day school week earlier this month, it felt there wasn’t enough planning to warrant allocating the funds.
In addition to the survey cost, the district may have also been required to pay for the cost of travel, lodging and stipends for the survey experts to come to town.
While some members of the audience who spoke felt that the survey was a good way to develop and fine-tune goals for the district, many felt there wasn’t a clear path on how the survey would be implemented.
The position against
“We didn’t even have all of our teachers provide feedback on our calendars,” said Jordan Erspamer, a fourth-grade teacher at Stagecoach Elementary. “There’s no indication of implementation, and now you’re proposing to spend this money when it could be used to hire a teacher. What if we don’t get any responses?”
Eastside Elementary Principal Tina Searle said she felt the survey would be done “to us” instead of “with us,” while Stagecoach Elementary Principal Jennifer Martin- Palacios alluded to a public perception that the board is divided against the administration.
Each member of the board profusely denied the accusation. It presented a united front in supporting students, teachers, staff, and administration.
Board member John Bettolo said the survey would be tailored to meet the district’s needs, but RSHS teacher Mark Chollack questioned whether the board could manipulate the survey to achieve the results it wants.
“I’m not talking about imposing my will or anybody else’s on anyone,” said Bettolo. “We have to have leadership, people that step forward and take the risk to ask the hard questions.”
The position for
Rock Springs High School Principal Annie Fletcher felt that the survey could put the district on the right track toward developing common goals and improve dialogue districtwide.
“As I listen here tonight, I hear something that has been missing, until tonight,” Fletcher said. “I hear hope. I hear opportunities to find common ground, I hear opportunities to work together to do what’s right for kids.”
While the board unanimously agreed not to fund this particular survey, it did pass a motion to send the proposal back to the climate survey subcommittee to explore other options “now that we have more direction,” said board member Matt Jackman.