Survey about NKSD: Quality good, COVID not

A majority of respondents to a survey about the North Kitsap School District are pleased with the quality of education, but fewer are pleased with how the district has handled the epidemic.

At last week’s North Kitsap School District board meeting, the results of a survey from last spring were shown regarding public perception of the district and strategic recommendations from residents.

According to board documents, Seattle public relations firm Strategies 360 conducted a live telephone survey among 325 residents in North Kitsap. Respondents completed the survey between March 8-11.

One of the key findings was that nearly three in five residents are satisfied with the quality of education from the NKSD. Parents, women and older residents were the demographics who were most satisfied. Although a majority of residents indicated they were satisfied with how the district responded to COVID-19, there was more pushback from parents with 38% dissatisfied.

The survey says that the biggest issue facing NKSD is COVID/remote learning challenges at 33%, followed by need students back in classroom/open schools at 24%, quality of education and safety at 8%, more funding and population growth at 5%, and achievement gaps, student mental health and student social problems at 4% each; 13% said “other.”

There were a few key differences. First, there are big gaps in satisfaction and performance ratings based on income — high-income residents are generally pleased but there are some “real concerns” among lower-income residents, such as communication from the district, documents read.

Second, regional differences also stood out – residents outside Poulsbo are less satisfied but do rate the district as doing “substantially better” on a few metrics such as overall performance, safety and school maintenance.

Lastly, gender differences were found such as women rating the district higher on safety and building maintenance while men gave higher marks on spending and use of tax dollars.

Over half of the residents from the survey think NKSD needs additional funding and nearly a third indicated taxes are way too high. Respondents also strongly prefer upgrading schools one at a time and keeping the tax rate stable instead of upgrading all the schools at once with a short-term tax increase.

Survey results regarding funding showcase the top priorities for residents are making repairs to school buildings and adding additional classroom space while building new schools and upgrading recreational facilities fell lower on the list.

Under the communicating with the community portion of the survey, results indicate that parents rely on messaging directly from the district and its schools, while non-parents rely on local papers, television, acquaintances and social media.