The Mindblowing GASD Survey

Well, I just came across a survey by the GASD so I just had to comment as it’s astoundingly and shockingly bad.
I’ve posted the document below as it’s no longer available on the GASD Web site so I had to recover it from the almighty Google cache. As you read the survey, please keep in mind these principles of a well designed survey:

  • Establishing Goals — I can’t figure out the goal; if i were to get 200 responses to this survey what would it tell me? I have no idea
  • Selecting your sample — apparently this is for people who have Web access only and have a reason to go the GASD site. Is this a proper sample of people in the district? I doubt it
  • Avoiding a biased sample — I’ll just copy from the link above so you can see the issue:
  • InternetAtypical PeopleLimited to people with Internet access.  Internet users are not representative of the general population, even when matched on age, gender, etc..  This can be a serious problem, unless you are only interested in people who have Internet access.  In many business surveys this limitation might not be a problem.  Another concern is that respondents have been known to complete multiple surveys to sway results, unless the software prevents this.

My concern is not so much the pointlessness of the survey but that the results, if any, will be actually compiled to draw some conclusion or plan of action. After all, why perform a survey if you’re not going to take a plan of action. Let’s say I’m against tax increases regardless of the relative merits of the budget (and this is a large segment of the population), I can fill out the survey 20 times and completely bias the results.
My final issue with this is just how much it panders to people who care only about taxes. Not one question about what programs are important, what courses are important, how well you think the district is performing, etc etc. Just more pandering to the people who view education through the lens of taxes. I hate to tell the board and administration but you’ll never engage this crowd to support any spending no matter how many surveys or how much you remind them of your achievements. Plus to my prior post, how do you expect people to respond with any credibility when you’ve not posted any details of the actual budget?
This is like asking a movie critic to review a movie before they’ve been to the screening.

2008-09 Budget SurveyExit this survey >>

1. Greater Amsterdam School District – 2008-09 Budget Survey

To: Residents of the Greater Amsterdam School District
Welcome to the Greater Amsterdam School District’s 2008-09 budget survey.
We, the members of the Board of Education, live and work in the Amsterdam community and pay property taxes just like you. We work diligently to develop budgets that are both fiscally responsible and provide adequate educational opportunities for students, and we believe we have developed such a budget for the 2008-09 school year. However, we understand that each school district resident has his or her own unique view on this matter, and therefore we would like your input. We have developed the survey below with the hope it will provide us with a better understanding of how residents view our efforts.
Thank you for your time,
Members of the Board of Education
Greater Amsterdam School District
The Board’s 2008-09 budget proposal is $52,949,297 and includes no increase in the tax levy (the total amount of property taxes collected by the district). If the budget is approved, property tax rates will decrease for the towns of Amsterdam, Florida, Mohawk, Duanesburg and Glenville. Property tax rates might increase slightly for the City of Amsterdam and towns of Charlton and Perth.
1. If the budget proposal is approved, the City of Amsterdam’s property TAX RATE could increase by a maximum of 1.57 percent, or 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That translates into a maximum DOLLAR increase of $8 for a house assessed at $50,000 with a STAR exemption. If you are a resident of the city of Amsterdam, what do you consider an acceptable DOLLAR increase your property tax bill?
2. Can you support the budget proposal, which calls for no increase in the tax levy and would mean lower tax rates for many (possibly most) homeowners?
3. Several years ago, the New York State Education Department designated Lynch Middle School (now Lynch Literacy Academy) as a school in need of improvement because its students struggled on academic achievement tests in math and English language arts. However, Lynch students have met state standards on math tests two years in a row, and if they meet state standards on this year’s English tests, Lynch will be removed from the state’s list of schools in need of improvement. Were you aware that student achievement was improving so quickly?
4. Were you aware that 93 percent of Amsterdam High School students who took the English 11 Regents examinations in January 2008 passed the test, and that 92 percent of students who took the Math A examinations in January 2008 passed that test?
5. If you were planning to vote against the budget proposal, did the information provided in the previous question change your mind?
6. If the 2008-09 budget proposal is defeated, the Board of Education will have no choice but to cut $1,170,691 to meet the state’s contingency budget limit. That will mean layoffs and cuts to all programs, including athletics, arts and music, instruction and extracurricular activities. If you had planned to vote against the budget proposal, does this information change your mind?
7. Please rank the following programs in order of importance to you:
Most ImportantVery ImportantSomewhat ImportantLeast Important
Extracurricular activities (student government and other clubs)
8. If it were up to you, which one of the following programs would be fully funded even if the budget proposal is defeated?
9. The Board of Education holds monthly public meetings to discuss school district business. The Board also holds public meetings from January through May to discuss its budget proposal and why spending items within the proposal are important. How often do you attend these meetings?
10. When did you last attend a Board of Education meeting?
11. In what town or city do you live?
12. What age range do you fit into?
13. Do you currently have children or grandchildren who attend GASD schools? (check all that apply)
14. If you answered yes to the question above, what schools do your children or grandchildren attend? (check all that apply)

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