Palmyra school board moves forward with focus group study [Lebanon Daily News, Pa. :: ]
(Lebanon Daily News (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 25--PALMYRA -- Palmyra school directors agreed to move forward with a proposed survey that would be used by an architectural firm to gather information for a feasibility study. Several directors and administrators, however, expressed some concern about the purpose of some of the questions at a workshop Thursday night.
In January, the board approved a $2,500 contract with Lancaster-based RPLS to conduct a focus group study to explore the future school needs of the district prior to doing a full building feasibility study.
The focus groups will include students, parents, residents, staff, administration and board members. RPLS developed a series of 20 questions for the participants to answer and then discuss in an hour-long session on May 7.
"We thought some of these questions were pointed, like we have a plan, and we don't have a plan," Superintendent Lisa Brown told the board.
Brown said she pointed out to the firm that some of the questions were leading and asked the company to reword them. The company defended the survey, saying it was designed to elicit plenty of feedback, she said.
Board member Ben Bova also expressed concern about the way the questions on the survey are worded.
"It seems to me there should be a more generic way of asking that question," he said, referring to a survey question about reconfiguring the middle school grades.
Board member Ralph Duquette said he thought the questions appeared to be geared toward a certain outcome.
"Such as 'Yes, we're going to do this building,'" he said, referring to the middle school.
In the past decade, Palmyra has renovated several of its existing schools and opened a new elementary on South Lingle Avenue. The middle school has been the focus of discussions in the past two years, because of the growth in the enrollment and the building has not been renovated since the late 1990s.
Board president Chris Connell pointed out that the survey is similar to a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a psychometric questionnaire that is used to assess personality preferences.
"It's not gauged for an exact answer. It's gauged to get your opinion on the subject area not necessarily the construction of a middle school," Connell said.
Brown said the results of the focus group study would give the district some ideas before it begins a feasibility study.
Residents interested in participating in the focus group -- the district needs about 30 volunteers -- can contact the district offices at 838-3144, or visit the district website at www.pasd.us.
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