Staff survey: reinventing American education is hard, but rewarding work
District leadership dedicated to making DCSD a great place to work
CASTLE ROCK – The Douglas County School District (DCSD) has released the results of its recent staff survey, which shows that District employees are not only aware of the District strategic priorities – Safety, Choice, World Class Education and System Performance – they also feel empowered as they make progress on this important work.
Nearly 40 percent of the District’s employees participated in the survey, which was sent in November. The majority of the 40-question survey focused on the District’s Strategic Plan, but employees were also given the opportunity to provide feedback about the District’s culture and climate.
WATCH: 17 things you may want to know from the employee survey
More than three-quarters of the survey respondents said they are empowered to take educated risks and 83 percent said their job makes them feel like they are part of something meaningful.
“We know this is not easy work, but according to this survey, our employees are pushing forward because they know that it is the right thing for kids and our profession,” Chief System Performance Officer Matt Reynolds. “The goal of this survey is to give them a voice in the process, so that we can address concerns and build upon successes.”
Safety is the District’s number one priority and the survey shows that an overwhelming majority of staff members feel safe physically, psychologically and online.
Additionally, it appears teachers are well informed, making progress and receiving support on the key educational goals, including the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, sustainable learning strategies and Balanced Assessment Systems.
The survey also identifies areas for improvement. For instance, only 64 percent of the respondents feel that their school/department collaboratively develops their budgets. Also, few understand the role of our Parent Liaison in supporting students and parents. And only half of the employees say they would highly recommend working at the District to others.
“This feedback is important. We, as a District, are committed to retaining and attracting the best employees to DCSD,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Cesare. “After deliberate discussion, we decided we wanted to ask if people would 'highly' recommend the District as opposed to just recommending. We set a high bar in everything we do and wanting our employees to be enthusiastic about our District is no exception. We are dedicated to making this a great place to work.”
A follow-up survey, conducted in December, helped to bring additional insight to questions like this. Those who say that they would highly recommend the district list “My profession is rewarding” and “This is a lot of work, but I love it” as their top reasons. Meanwhile, the top two reasons employees would not highly recommend the District are “My pay is too low” and “The political tension/negativity of select community members creates an unhealthy environment that I do not enjoy.”
In the follow-up survey, staff also had the ability to provide the District feedback regarding budget prioritization and what raise they would find appropriate. Of the 15 budget items included in the survey, employees prioritized salary increases, lower class sizes, improvement of employee benefits, increasing student-based budget dollars coming into schools, funding the state PERA increase, maintaining health insurance coverage and special education growth the highest.
District leaders say these surveys, as well as the recent TELL survey and regular dialogue with staff provide insight and guidance for strategic planning at both the District and school-levels. The data from this winter’s surveys are expected to help in the planning of professional development, budget priorities and may spark initiatives by several departments, including Human Resources, Communications, and Personalized Learning.
Meanwhile, the Board of Education is continuing to consider possible opportunities for a future parent and community survey.