02/09/18 — Survey looks at county schools

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Survey looks at county schools

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on February 9, 2018 5:50 AM

The Wayne County Board of Education discussed the results of a recent county-wide survey at its meeting Monday, touching on diversity, redistricting and ways to improve the school system.

The survey, conducted in late 2017, asked three questions -- what do you think Wayne County Public Schools needs to improve on, what do you appreciate about the district, and a third question asking for thoughts on redistricting and magnet schools.

Those taking the survey were also allowed to rate comments. The responses followed patterns in some places and were split down the middle in others.

The largest pool of responses came from the second question -- or what the district needs to improve on.

Teacher pay was a prominent response -- the most highly-rated response simply read "teachers need raises" -- as well as generally reducing the responsibilities of teachers outside of instruction.

Ken Derksen, Wayne County Public Schools communications and public relations director, presented the results.

He cautioned the board to make sure they differentiated between those things that they could control and those that were out of their hands, such as teacher supplements.

"Of course, increasing teacher supplements, you all can come to a consensus on that, but at the end of the day if you don't have the board of commissioner's support, it really falls in line that it has to be a consensus between this board and the board of commissioners because that's where the money comes from," Derksen said.

In 2017, WCPS requested funds to increase teacher supplements by 1 percent, followed by four more years of supplement growth. The board of commissioners denied that request.

The second section, reserved for comments on what the district has done right, was full of praise for teachers. Survey participants said they appreciated dedicated teachers who care for their students, especially in increasingly difficult teaching environments.

Participants also praised Wayne School of Engineering and Wayne Early Middle College High School and asked for more magnet school options.

Participants were generally in favor of more magnet schools and greater access to the ones already in place, but they were split on issues of redistricting.

Some said that they were in favor of neighborhood schools, whereby students would go to the schools nearest them.

Others said they favored an approach that would encourage socio-economic and racial diversity.

The two approaches are not compatible because neighborhoods tend to be built on socioeconomic lines, sending children to school with only those nearby them would lead to socioeconomically homogenous student populations.

Board member Raymond Smith said that the board should commit to making socio-economic diversity a priority.

"If we keep doing the same things, we're going to get the same results," he said. "Until we are willing to stop ignoring that our schools lack socio-economic diversity, we are going to get the same results."