The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 18, 2013

Buckeye survey finds residents would support school levy

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — A recent survey of registered voters in the Buckeye Local Schools District indicates strong support for the schools, even to the point of supporting an operating levy.

Doyle Davidson and Steve Miller of mkc Associates at Tuesday’s board meeting presented the results of a community survey commissioned by the board. Davidson said the scientific portion of the study was based upon 314 telephone surveys of registered votes in the district. That gave the results a margin of error of about 5 percent. Davidson said although the survey required a commitment of 12 to 14 minutes to complete, 94 percent of the people stayed on the line long enough to answer all the questions.

“The community was very cordial,” Davidson said. “They were absolutely wonderful to deal with. The results were really positive and reinforced by the lack of negative comments.”

The board worked with mkc to develop the questions on the survey. The questions were designed to gauge public perception of the district’s educational quality and financial responsibility, functionality of existing facilities and likelihood of supporting operating and bond issues on the ballot.

In addition to the telephone survey, which included some cell phone numbers, mkc received 239 paper surveys sent home with students or made available at schools. While that sampling was not scientific, Davidson said the results closely tracked the phone survey responses.

“That’s a boatload of people willing to share how they perceive the district,” Davidson said of the response to the paper surveys. “There was a striking similarity of the two groups.”

He said that, overall, the public’s evaluation of the schools was very positive and that taxpayers feel that the district’s program is very impressive, “almost off the charts.” Davidson told the board members they could take pride in the way voter’s perceive the district, especially since many of them are parents or grandparents of students attending Buckeye schools.

“There is no one who knows you better than the parents and the kids who go to school here,” he said.

As to voters’ willingness to pay more for that program, Davidson said the survey indicated “a reasonable amount of support for an operating levy down the road.” The support held true even when specific dollar amounts were shared by the survey caller.

Less enthusiasm was expressed for a bond issue for the purpose of building new schools. The voters rated the district’s buildings “average or better” but also said they need some improvement.

The board received a summary of the survey and will eventually get a detailed presentation that will include comments made by voters at the end of the surveys.

“There are insights there I think you will find very valuable,” Davidson told the board.

Both Miller and Davidson urged the board to take the next step and use the survey results to develop a strategy for the district.