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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

School board objects to Pinellas Education Foundation survey



A summer survey put out by the Pinellas Education Foundation and the Pinellas County Council of Parent Teacher Association has struck a sour note with school board members who claim some of the questions are misleading or based on incorrect information.

Board member Linda Lerner brought up the survey at the end of Tuesday's workshop. She asked superintendent John Stewart to write a letter to the foundation expressing concern. Board member Peggy O'Shea said some of the questions "are not based on facts."

The summer survey includes a dozen questions, nine of which pertain to specific issues. One question that board members took issue with was this one:

3. According to the Florida Dept. of Education, 43% of all Pinellas County School employees are traditional classroom teachers. Should Pinellas County Schools place more value on classroom instruction by decreasing money spent on non-classroom operations in order to increase teacher salaries?

Board members said the question was misleading - they said the figure doesn't take into account other money that's spent on classroom instruction, including support staff.

Another question asked:

10. Similar to students and schools, should the Pinellas County School Board receive a letter grade (A- F) on their performance from parents and taxpayers?

Board chairwoman Robin Wilke said the community already "grades" board members' performance - through elections. But Wikle said she didn't think the board needed to do something about the survey, as Lerner suggested.

"We don't do anything," she said. "It's their survey."

Other members said it might be a good idea for the board to have more communication with the foundation. Stewart said he could draft a letter, but he wasn't as bothered.

"I don't take the same offense to it that you're expressing, Ms. Lerner...People say all kinds of things about me and the system that I don't agree with," he said.

The foundation has taken an active role in school board issues lately. My colleague, Rebecca Catalanello, wrote a story about it in April. The foundation offered Monday to pay $30,000 for a new superintendent search - and some foundation members were on hand Tuesday when the school board rejected that offer.

Other surveys have included questions about whether the respondents support the school tax referendum, if they approve of early release Wednesdays and whether schools set high expectations for students. See the March survey here.



[Last modified: Friday, July 20, 2012 11:15am]


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