Gainesville school officials recently asked for honest opinions from those on the front lines of education.
They got what they asked for — a blunt assessment of the good, bad and ugly.
One Gainesville employee wrote, “Recruiting more African-American and Latino educators would be beneficial. … Especially at the middle school and high school level, we would be able to get better parent involvement when parents see people that look like them in the classroom.”
Other comments spoke more of process.
“Too many meetings during teachers’ planning time,” one teacher at Gainesville Exploration Academy wrote. “We also do a lot of unnecessary paperwork, and we test the kids way too much,” wrote another at Gainesville Exploration Academy.
Most surveyed, 52 percent, are “satisfied” with their working experience, and 42 percent are “extremely satisfied,” according to the survey of teachers and other employees who plan to continue working for the district. Another 5 percent said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and only 1 percent marked “dissatisfied.”
Although exit surveys are common, district leaders wanted to hear from employees who remain at their jobs, said Priscilla Collins, the district’s chief professional services officer. Collins said she borrowed the idea from the school district in White County.
“We always do the exit interviews and surveys, but we were very curious as to why people opt to stay with us,” Collins said in presenting the information to the school board earlier this week.
Collins said 356 employees participated out of about 900 who work for the Gainesville school district.
“I thought it was very good information to have, and I enjoyed reading the responses,” Collins added.
Board members quipped that they took time from Super Bowl Sunday to read much of the 60-page report.
Collins’ report also broke down responses from each of the district’s seven schools, which largely mirrored the overall response.
Another teacher who did not identify his or her school wrote: “At times I wonder if our One Gainesville motto is observed by all. I say this because it seems to be known that there are issues with leadership, procedures, and/or behaviors at some of the schools, but those things are not noticeably addressed. ... Teacher turnover, student transfers, noticeable behavior issues and chronic failures continue to take place.”
Some pointed at the district’s diversity, community involvement and progressive leadership as reasons they enjoy working in Gainesville schools,
“I enjoy the small family feel of Gainesville City Schools,” one employee wrote.
Collins plans to circulate the survey again when teaching contracts are mailed out to give those who didn’t participate an opportunity to do so.