The Kyrene School District received results this week from a community survey that hadn’t been conducted in seven years.

The 2012 Community Survey by WestGroup Research surveyed 609 residents in the district and showed an overall strong satisfaction from the group with Kyrene’s quality of education.

Albeit roughly small sample sizes for some questions and strictly over-the-phone surveying, board members expressed interest in doing the survey more often and with more people surveyed.

“The more objective data we have the better off we will be,” said Superintendent David Schauer. “And this has been a gap for us for a while, so I believe we would want to continue this on a regular basis.”

The survey was conduced in April, and its participants are broke down into 408 parents and 201 non-parents who were called through random-digit dialing.

Based on the survey, 26 percent of the group thought one of the district’s strengths were teachers and staff, with 13 percent saying a strength was the quality of their programs.

The biggest challenges the survey group answered were lack of proper parent and financial support and overcrowded classes.

Questions included whether they would recommend the district to others, their reason for recommending, and what letter grade they would rate the district, among others.

The survey also showed 53 percent of the group wanted to see a total of 200 calender school days increased from a current 180 days in comparison to the option of longer school days or a year-round school year.

While the Tri-District Calendar Committee has already looked into that change and if funding would allow, governing board member Ross Robb voiced his support.

“If 53 percent of people thought that was worthwhile, that might be something we may want to look at again,” Robb said.

Another topic deemed important by the survey group were the introduction to foreign languages in both elementary and middle schools. Ninety-three percent of people thought Spanish should be a language taught in schools.

In response to about one-fourth of parents concerned with school safety that stems from bullying, the district is planning on a new program that will address the issue of bullying in middle schools.

The board did not comment on when another survey would be conducted.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com

(1) comment

David
David

I've always been a strong believer in the value of learning a language at the youngest possible age. I've traveled extensively and lived in Europe for short periods of time. I've worked with folks who normally spoke 3-4+ languages, most just as a result of growing up and having it ingrained in their lives, school included.
I personally wasn't introduced to any foreign languages until 7th grade. After three years of German I knew some words and could string together some basic sentences, but that was all. I found it very difficult to truly learn and master a foreign language.
Then I had kids...
My kids started out at a local Montessori school (the tremendous Ahwatukee Foothills Montessori.) Their curriculum includes Spanish from day 1 until graduation from kindergarten. My kids took right to it. They'd come home with all kinds of Spanish words, phrases and songs. To them it didn't seem foreign at all. Heck, they even learned a Chinese song from kids on the playground!
Then we left AFM and joined Kyrene. I was shocked to learn that Spanish instruction isn't even an elective until 7th grade (you can take it ONLY for half a year in 6th grade; oh, and that material is covered in duplicate if you take it in 7th grade anyway.) The school district is all to aware of the university requirement of a foreign language, yet they choose to DELAY learning until a time in the kids' lives when it's much more difficult? Seems crazy to me.
Now this survey comes out. Seems like 93% of those surveyed feel like me. They want to see Spanish brought back into the schools. I'm sure they aren't referring to middle school but K-5. Anyone who has kids or has tried to learn a foreign language knows "start as early as you can."
I'll be VERY anxious to see what Kyrene does about this very clear survey result. And I"ll be tremendously dismayed to not see a change in the 2013-2014 calendar year.
One side note: I know that the Kyrene Enrichment after school program does offer Spanish language enrichment. But that's no replacement for making it part of the core school curriculum.

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