School Perceptions owner Bill Foster reviewed the results of the community survey offered in April and provided his recommendations at the Board of Education development meeting on Monday, May 7.
Foster said there were 3,382 responses, including 812 who submitted paper copies. The participation rate was 18 percent and the margin of error is plus-minus 1.7 percent. He noted 16 percent of the respondents were 65 or older, which is close to the percentage of seniors in the District based on the 2010 census.
"We have very, very good data,'' Foster said.
He noted the survey is over-represented with staff and families who have children in the schools, but noted he had broken out the data to show four different sub-groups in order to show the levels of support among each one.
He was impressed 77 percent of respondents believe MCPASD has a positive impact on their home value.
"You are so good you are off the charts,'' Foster said to laughs. "This is probably the best I have ever seen in all of my years. It's really, really positive.''
Foster noted that, like most districts, more than two-thirds of eligible voters in MCPASD don't work for the District or have children in school. He also noted for any referendum to be successful staff support is critical.
Video of Foster's presentation to the Board of Education:
He was impressed that each sub-groups -- all residents, staff, parents who aren't staff, and non-staff with no children in MCPASD schools -- support pursuing a referendum, with staff leading the way at 92 percent.
A majority of all four sub-groups favor updating and expanding the high school with the least support coming from non-parents and non-staff at 53 percent. The results were similar for building a new elementary school.
The results were not as clear at the middle school level. He noted 34 percent of non-parents and non-staff prefer to wait, which was the largest percentage in that sub-group, while parents and staff prefer to do something right away although no option received 50 percent.
All of the sub-groups supported the cafeteria project at Park, while there wasn't as much support for the Breitenbach Stadium project and he believes it would have a tough time passing.
Depending on the option, between 10 and 21 percent of respondents were undecided. He said about one-third of undecideds usually vote yes on a referendum.
He noted the non-parents and non-staff sub-group will support $130 million in a capital referendum question, while parents and staff are solidly behind $160 million. There is also similar support for the operational question.
Foster believes there is solid support for anything less than $140 million, but was apprehensive to recommend asking for more. School Perceptions surveyed 56 projects over the last two election cycles and 51 had support in the survey and were successful, he said. He noted one of the others had support for $25 million but the District decided to ask for almost $27 million and lost by 3 votes.
"There is a limit in every community,'' Foster said.
He also shared that about 10 years ago capital questions had about 8 percent more support in Wisconsin than operational questions but the gap has narrowed in recent years.
Foster noted in a typical survey 22-24 percent would not support any referendum, while the MCPASD results were at 15 percent. He expects turnout to be high partly due to the governor's race but also because a referendum is a local issue that impacts everyone. He shared that typically 90-plus percent of those who take the survey will turn out to vote.
"When it's the right project, there is strong support for referendums throughout the state,'' he said. "I was really pleased with the results. Good, clean data. I'm the messenger and I don't always get to deliver that news. ...There is strong support for the high school and strong support for a new elementary school. There is also strong support for Park. If you can get all of that under $140 million, that would be a great effort.''
Facilities Planning Committee members who attended the meeting included Paul Braun, Ryan Kallies, Alejandro Martinez, Sara Ludtke, Seth Johnson, Dorothy Paler, Luke Francois, Sam Wilson and Bill Vogel.
In other news from Monday's meeting:
- Bob Green was unanimously elected president, Annette Ashley was unanimously elected vice president, Todd Smith was unanimously elected clerk and Linda Yu was unanimously elected treasurer.
- The Board unanimously approved the 2018-19 individual teacher contracts.
- The Board unanimously approved a payment to Godfrey & Kahn.
- The Board approved foreign trips to China, Greece, Spain and Vietnam by MHS students in 2019 or 2020. All foreign travel requests must be approved by the Board.