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Lakeview survey shows positives, negatives in pandemic handling

CORTLAND — A recent survey sent to parents, residents and boosters, among others, by Lakeview Local Schools was met with rather positive remarks, the results show.

The results, though, do indicate a lack of consistency with messages across various platforms such as social media and the district’s website, Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor said.

“There are several things the community is proud of and interested in, and some areas we have to look at,” Taylor said. “Whether it’s unifying our message across platforms or consistency across those platforms, people found those difficult to maneuver.”

She added the district has “patchworked” the communications between the schools and the public for years, but the findings show the information is outdated on one website and updated on another.

“It’s something we need to work on,” Taylor said. “It will take time.”

FINDINGS

The report, headed by The Impact Group, found a lot of positives from the surveys, such as the district well-preparing students for life after high school, high praise for the teaching staff both in the classroom and caring for the students. Other high marks are fiscal responsibility and handling the COVID-19 pandemic well.

On the other hand, the report states the negatives predominately focus on communication and the dissemination of information.

“There was a recurring theme that parents are forced to hunt for information,” the report states. “There is also the perception that the information is not consistent across platforms.”

The report cites four mediums — Drund, Class Dojo, Facebook and Google Classroom — in the findings. The main concern with Drund is the difficulty of use, the report states. Class Dojo and Google Classroom were well received and easy to use. Facebook was mixed with positive and negative reviews as a way to spread information.

Inconsistency created frustration regarding the “lack of a unified message.” A remedy to this, the report states, is having somebody other than Taylor pass out information for more consistency and frequency.

Taylor said: “We’re looking at rebuilding our website and making it the hub of our communications. We’re looking at alternatives to Drund, and we are exploring new communication options. The board is holding a work session Monday to establish the district’s vision so we can get a better sense of what our vision is.”

Other negative topics include the quality of the district’s website, the high school facilities, board transparency and community and parent input. For the latter, the report states that of those surveyed, parents feel they “do not have a say” and “what happens in the buildings is a big secret.”

COVID-19

Navigating the pandemic was difficult for many, if not all, schools in the Mahoning Valley. For Lakeview, however, a group of parents met and attended school board meetings to explain why their children needed to be in school. The group cited data from various studies and personal anecdotes. One of the main concerns was the educational value the students would receive while learning from home. Some said online learning could be responsible for the children falling behind.

The report states overall the district did well in handling the situation, with some areas for concern.

One issue, as per the findings, was that communication was broken at times, leading to confusion and complication.

“Some felt the communication came late, with parents complaining they learned more from the news or social media before hearing anything from the school,” the report states.

The report also states a mix of those surveyed wanted the children returning to in-person learning sooner and those who appreciated the caution taken by the district.

“It was stated by parents that the schools themselves did a good job communicating the complexities of the COVID-19 situation regarding specific school issues. It was district-wide communication that was lacking,” the report states. “Community members are looking forward to post-COVID-19 so relationships may be restored.”

Overall, the report states the school district “did a great job with remote learning during COVID-19,” the report states.

Survey results

A survey sent to community members and parents of Lakeview Local Schools was met with positive and negative feedback.

Positives

• Day-to-day operation at the schools is excellent

• A strong administrative team and a unified board

• One-call communication system works well

• Staff was very responsive and caring throughout COVID-19

• Teaching staff has been exceptional with much enthusiasm

Negatives

• Community members and families would like to attract higher-quality educators

• Policy of snacks does not make sense

• Long-term planning is necessary

• Website quality needs updated

• Inconsistent communication

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