"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bond Survey Discussion

The Daily Herald published an article on the district's bond survey.  In light of a few questions that have been surfacing, I felt I should put some concerns to rest.

First, the district is hiring an independent polling firm to conduct the survey.  Some people thought the district, itself, was going door-to-door.  This is incorrect.  The polling firm will be doing the door-to-door interviews.  The survey consists of quite a few questions, all of which the board has discussed in work sessions.  The bond questions have yet to be completely finalized, but will be before mid-March.  For my previous coverage of the bond survey, please see here, here, and here.  The cost to hire this firm is roughly $8000 and will survey approximately 800 residents of ASD.

This brings me to the next point.  The Herald article says that residents of North Utah County will be surveyed.  By this statement, it doesn't mean some of ASD but not all of ASD.  All areas covered by ASD residents will be proportionately surveyed.  Again, by a reputable firm.  This firm has done bond surveys for the district for the past two bonds.  The only difference this time is it will be done door-to-door instead of over the phone.  There is no additional cost to the district (and hence, to you, the taxpayers) for a door-to-door survey instead of the phone survey.

Admittedly, surveys exist to get information, but also to provide information.  This survey is no exception.  Details of the district and the bond will be provided.  Some options, in the place of a bond, are provided for your feedback.  The question I would ask you is, with a proposed 10,000 additional students entering the district in the next 5 years, how do we accommodate that growth?

One of the suggestions is to build smaller schools or schools with less amenities.  The concern is why should the people out west have less "school" or less amenities than those in the east. The flip side is if we are unable to provide that level of building, due to the economy, we need to tighten our belts just like everyone else.

Another suggestion is to utilize more online offerings and perhaps a greater mix of work done at home and less at school (allowing for a shorter school day). Also can we allow more flexibility in what courses, outside of school, can be counted for school credit?  As an example, my kids take private music lessons.  Can those lessons count for music credit at the school?  If not, why not?

A third suggestion was to operate the schools in a fashion like the colleges and universities, as a trimester system.  The only way this would work is if both the faculty and the students/parents were able to choose their attendance schedule.  For example, there would be Fall, Winter, and Summer trimesters.  You get to pick 2 out of 3 to attend.  One advantage to Summer term would probably be smaller class sizes (as well as for those who ski and snowboard).  Additionally, if a student chose to go year round and finish sooner, why not?  The advantage is full use of our existing buildings. 

All of the above options have pros and cons associated with them.  I throw them out for your discussion.  I would also like to hear of any other options you would consider.

In short, the way we have always done things is, as more kids enter the system, we bond to build more schools.  If we want to alter that course of action, we need to solve the problem of educating those additional students in a new way.  I look forward to reading your input.

1 comment:

  1. What about fewer amenities now, adding them to schools as the budget allows. The "But they have one, why can't I?" argument is just as ridiculous coming from an adult as it is coming from a child. If the district can afford it, great, but you don't go into debt if it's not a necessity. I don't have all the amenities in my home that I'd like to have, but that doesn't mean I should go into debt when I don't NEED it.

    There is nothing wrong with waiting to build something that is unessential to the education of the students in a growing area.

    I still think that ASD should start issuing charters to help absorb the growth. Also, what about building schools with shared amenities (like a junior high and high school next door to each other sharing an auditorium, athletic structures, kitchen, etc.?