Wake Ed Releases Post-Bond Survey Data and Announces Community Engagement Initiative

 RALEIGH – Wake citizens want more ways to pay for schools and more accessible information about how the money is funded and spent, according to results of an online survey conducted in November by Wake Education Partnership. Wake Ed, a local education advocacy organization, released the survey results today at a meeting of elected officials and other school leaders.

“The results of this survey are a first step in fostering productive and informed conversations about how our community manages growth,” said Jeff Merritt, chair of Wake Ed’s community engagement efforts and a member of the Board of Directors. “We can serve as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue, independent information, and focused action to address the challenges revealed by the debate over the school bond referendum.”

From Nov. 8-22, 2006, more than 1,220 people completed the voluntary survey online at WakeEdPartnership.org. Although this was not a scientific poll, participants in the survey tracked closely with the actual bond vote—53.2 percent said they voted yes, while 42.1 said they voted no on the bond on Nov. 7.

Results of the survey, which involved two required multiple choice questions and two open-ended response questions, included the following three themes:

  1. The citizens of Wake County want continuous information in order to trust this process. They want financial oversight and accountability, as well as public reporting of how taxpayer dollars are spent. Community education on relevant topics should be an ongoing process and not confined to the months prior to a bond vote.
  2. The bond cannot be the only way we fund school construction and renovations. Citizens want new solutions to dealing with student enrollment growth that lessen the burden on taxpayers. There is little consensus among respondents about what these solutions should be.
  3. Citizens need to believe that school leaders and elected officials are really listening to them and are working together to present the best possible plans for dealing with growth. Respondents said the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners must improve their relationships with citizens and do a better job of planning for growth.

Following on the results of the survey, Wake Ed Partnership announces a three-part strategic initiative called the Education Exchange series.

  • First, we have started a new online resource center on our site. A recurring theme in the survey responses was a desire for more information, much of which is already available but not always simple to access. Wake Ed will provide an easy one-stop location for citizens with links to other sites for data, reports and further information about topics ranging from school construction and finance to student achievement and graduation requirements. Regular updates to the site will continue to expand access for those seeking more information.
  • Second, we invite Wake citizens to continue this conversation through our website. A new link on our site will allow people to send e-mails with questions and comments, additional resources to include on the site, and other ideas for future discussion.
  • Third, we will launch a series of four town-hall meetings beginning in March. The first of these town-hall-style meetings will be held at the Knightdale Town Hall on Thursday, March 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The public is invited to come hear a report from the Citizen Facilities Advisory Committee about how school sites are selected. We’ll also have time for questions, ideas and comments. Additional meetings will follow in April, May and June. Anyone interested in learning more about the Ed Exchange series can register on our website to receive an e-mail notice as details are set.

Members of the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education attended the briefing, as well as members of the Partnership’s Board of Directors and others involved in both sides of the bond campaign.

To download a copy of the full report or the executive summary for more details about the survey responses, please visit www.WakeEdPartnership.org.

Wake Education Partnership is an advocacy organization dedicated to making world-class schools possible in Wake County through business and community involvement. We play a critical role in bringing people together, raising the level of discussion through capacity building, and brokering information and relationships around key issues in public education. Founded in 1983 by Raleigh’s leading business, civic and political leaders, Wake Education Partnership serves as an independent link between the school system and the community to promote public responsibility for globally competitive schools in Wake County. Programs for 2006-07 focus on retaining effective teachers, developing effective education leaders, and ensuring healthy schools for all students. For more information, please visit www.WakeEdPartnership.org.

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