New beginnings

November 02, 2017

It was the largest relocation of students and staff in the district’s recent history. This fall, thousands of students and more than 200 staff members joined new schools as a result of grade configuration changes, boundary adjustments and school closings.

We know it hasn’t been easy. Leaving schools they love to attend schools they do not know has been very difficult for some. Yet thanks to the efforts of many parents, staff and students, families are reporting their students are adjusting well to their new learning environments.

As part of fall parent/teacher conferences, we asked families to share their experiences with school staff by completing the Navigating Change Family Survey. Nearly 500 respondents, representing all of the district’s schools, provided their feedback. This is what we've learned:

  • 72 percent of respondents rated the transition as good or very good.
  • 14 percent of respondents rated the transition as not good or not good at all.

When asked what has been the most positive experience, 25 percent of respondents credited teachers and staff with helping make the transition smooth. The top themes that emerged in this area included:

  • Teachers and staff (124 comments)
  • Positive student experiences (48 comments)
  • New friendships formed (41 comments)
  • Access to programs (31 comments)
  • Communication (30 communication)

When asked what has been the most challenging, 19 percent of respondents stated they had not experienced challenges. Of the concerns that were shared through the survey, bussing issues were the most frequently mentioned. It’s important to note that busing concerns are not a result of the transition, but occurred due to driver shortages and normal beginning-of-the-year operational issues. The top themes that emerged in this area included:

  • Busing (41 comments)
  • Loss of friends (31 comments)
  • Communication (25 comments)
  • Crowding of buildings or classrooms. This was most common among high school parents. (24 comments)

“Considering the magnitude of the change, everything seemed easier and more organized than we had expected,” one parent wrote as part of the anonymous survey. “Our children simply love their new school and felt that all of the details in the early days were managed well. Thank you!”

District leaders and school principals will study the results in more detail to determine what areas of the transition went well, and what things can still be improved upon as we move through the year.