Marshall school board defers question of community survey -- for now
Columbia's in, but Marshall is taking a wait-and-see approach to the question of whether the school district should pay a professional pollster to assess community views about the district.
At a special meeting of the Marshall school board July 12, the board heard a presentation by a representative of Patron Insight, a communications firm that conducts telephone surveys to gauge public opinion.
As board President Larry Godsey opened the floor Tuesday, July 20, for discussion about whether to pursue a professional survey, he noted that the Columbia school board had just opted to pay more than $14,000 to Patron Insight for a survey.
Board member Kathy Green spoke up first, admitting that she had been enthusiastic about the idea after hearing the presentation, but she said had since changed her mind.
"As tight as money is around here, if we had $8,000 to $14,000 to spend, we should spend it on the kids," she said. "I think it's something that would probably be very helpful, but I don't know that we can afford to do something like that right now."
Board member Anita Wright agreed.
"We couldn't even have summer school. I don't think the community would appreciate having the money spent that way," she said.
Board member Mike Mills spoke in favor of doing the survey -- at some point. He said the "disconnect" between the board and the voters would need to be resolved before the district tries again to float a building bond issue.
"This is a tool that could be extremely helpful" in addressing the reasons voters are unwilling to approve bond issues.
"If we're not going to put it up on the ballot for a while, we don't need to do it right now," he said. "But before we put it on the ballot again, we ought to investigate" doing a survey.
"We need to figure out why people didn't vote for it," Mills said. "There's reasons out there."
Godsey also noted that the board had only heard from one company and if members were interested in a survey, other options could be investigated.
In other business, Superintendent Craig Noah provided the board with an update on the glass art program that had been proposed by Marshall High School art teacher Shawn Harris, who resigned effective the end of the 2009-2010 school year.
Harris had raised about $29,000 through donations and had obtained equipment through the 21st Century Learning Communities grant. His goal was to raise enough money to pay for construction of a glass blowing studio on the MHS campus.
When Harris left the district, he requested the district return money to donors, Noah said.
The money is being handled by the Marshall Education Foundation.
Noah said the foundation board decided Tuesday morning, July 20, to contact donors and ask whether they would be willing to let the money be used for scholarships.
Donors can expect to receive a call or letter from district officials, Noah said.
Noah said Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education officials were contacted to find out how to properly handle the equipment that was purchased for the program.
The district will need to sell the equipment for a reasonable price and return the proceeds to DESE, he said.
Mills asked whether the equipment could be used to offer community education courses, and Noah said if a local person makes the highest bid, that might be a possibility.
"It would be nice if someone in town would take it and offer classes. I would like to take them," Green said.
Contact Eric Crump at email@example.com
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