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Pinellas County School District survey rankles employees

For the third year in a row, there are issues with the Pinellas County School District's annual "climate survey," which gives thousands of employees a chance to anonymously say what they think about their bosses and work environment.

A new, improved survey was emailed to district employees last week, but some groups of teachers were left out. Meanwhile, many other employees are grumbling that they did not have time to respond because the district gave them one day to do so, as opposed to many days in the past.

The criticism led teachers union president Kim Black to raise the issue with superintendent John Stewart, which apparently prompted a followup email to employees from the district's research and accountability department.

The email says an initial analysis shows a response rate of 36 percent this year with the one-day window, compared with 38 percent last year with a 17-day window. "We are seeing strong indications that the processes we had implemented were in the right direction," wrote Behrokh Ahmadi, the district's director for program evaluation.

But Black said it is still wrong that many employees did not have the opportunity to participate.

"Every employee matters," she said.

The district email noted the latest survey is shorter and "more polished" than past surveys. It says the one-day window "is a valuable strategy used for survey data collection."

The district also explains that art and music teachers were inadvertently left out because they are coded differently than other employees in the same school. "This is something we are aware of in our data collection and will correct for next year," Ahmadi wrote.

District officials scrapped the survey in 2010, but reversed course a week later after the decision was written about in the Gradebook, the Tampa Bay Times' education blog, and at least a couple of School Board members weighed in.

Nearly the same thing happened again last spring. Superintendent Julie Janssen initially told the board she didn't plan to do the survey because it was inadequate. But board members later directed her to carry it out until a better survey could be created.

Pinellas County School District survey rankles employees 02/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2012 3:31am]
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