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Lifelong Learning

Community survey results show preliminary support for high school facilities improvements

January 9, 2019

A majority of residents of Moorhead Area Public Schools believe the schools provide a quality education and trust the district to do what is right, according to results of the district’s recent community survey.

During a work session on Dec. 10, the Moorhead School Board heard a presentation about the district’s community survey results from Don Lifto with Springsted. A random sample survey of 400 registered voters was completed in November with results projectable to all registered voters within +/-5 percent.

Overall, 78 percent of respondents rated the quality of education in the district as excellent or good, and 88 percent trust the School Board and administration to do what is right for the district’s students.

Other perception data from the survey includes:
• 71 percent of the respondents agree the district spends effectively/efficiently.
• 89 percent of respondents believe the district provides a good value for investment.
• 57 percent of respondents said the district does a good job of involving parents and community members in decisions about the schools.

Most of the survey asked voters for their opinions about high school facility options and their support for high school improvements. This information provided insight for the district’s High School Facilities Task Force, which is weighing options to address capacity and adequacy of high school facilities for the next 25 years.

Respondents were asked about support for expanding the current high school for 2,400 students; renovating the current high school for 1,200 students and building a new second high school for 1,200 students; and building a new high school for 2,400 students on a new site. Strongest support at 68 percent was given for expanding the current high school.

Opinions were mixed about the importance of sharing a mascot and athletic programs if two high schools were built, Lifto said.

Respondents were asked their support for eight potential projects. All received positive support with most support for elements like security upgrades, classroom technology, flexible learning spaces, and academies within a larger high school.

Survey results indicate that approximately 60 percent of registered voters are supportive of the need for high school improvements. Without knowing details of the plan, the majority would be supportive of a tax increase between $50 to $100 per year on a $200,000 home. Lifto recommended the tax impact for high school improvements should be no more than $115 per year on an average home.

Questions pertaining to communications indicate that half of respondents feel informed or very informed about district decisions. Mailed publications, The Forum, email, and personal sources like friends and neighbors are key sources of information.

The facilities task force reviewed the community survey results Dec. 12 and is working to finalize a recommendation to present to the School Board in January or February 2019.

Photo: Members of the school district’s High School Facilities Task Force listen as Don Lifto with Springsted reviews results of the community survey last month.

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