Survey results encouraging for district

THE FIRST STEP IN the Plymouth School District upgrading its buildings and facilities was a positive step.

After an exhaustive and comprehensive study of needs at the district’s five school buildings – the high school, Riverview Middle School and Fairview, Horizon and Parkview elementary schools – the School Board authorized a community survey on proposed school facility updates.

The School Board received the results of the survey at their November meeting and the overall answer was encouraging.

Out of some 7,500 surveys sent out to district residents, about 1,500 responses were received – a roughly 20 percent response rate which, according to School Perceptions, the firm that conducted the survey and has done so for a number of other school districts, is a strong response.

To put that in perspective, 20 percent is pretty close to the percentage of voter turnout for many spring elections where school boards and other local officials are elected.

Of those who responded to the survey, some 62 percent supported the district borrowing $31.9 million to finance upgrades at every school but Horizon and Riverview.

Horizon, because it is the newest building in the district, and Riverview, because it was greatly expanded and upgraded just over a decade ago, were determined not to have any pressing upgrade needs at this time by the facilities study.

The survey further found that 70 percent of those responding feel the School Board should move forward with a referendum to gain voter approval for the upgrade program – which would be the right step to take.

Receiving the strongest support in the survey were more secure entrances at all three involved schools, improved cafeteria and kitchen spaces and air conditioning at the two elementary schools, and improved science labs and health-career classrooms at the high school.

All of that, and many of the other projects included in the proposed facilities upgrades, reflect the fact, as stated in this space before, that the grandparents of today’s school children got a much different education than their grandchildren do today. The jobs and careers today’s students are being trained for, the equipment required to teach them, the subjects they are taught are in many ways worlds different from what their grandparents required.

But all of that can and should be done, as much as possible, in existing buildings and facilities, which is where the proposed upgrades and updates come into play.

In announcing the survey results, district officials stated:

“The Board of Education will factor in the survey results as it considers updates to school facilities. The existing school facilities have served the community well for generations, and the district has done an excellent job of maintaining them with its given resources. Looking toward the future, the district wants to be sure it has what it needs to continue helping all students become their best through successful learning experiences.”

The district, with the support of local voters and taxpayers, has over the years done an admirable job of adapting and improving its facilities to meet changing requirements without excessive debt or stretching financial resources too far.

District officials and the School Board deserve credit for making the process thus far in this round of proposed improvements a thorough and open one.

All of that should continue to be true as the district moves forward with what have been affirmed by the public as necessary improvements to three district schools.


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