On Monday, Superintendent Dale is releasing the results of a survey about public trust and confidence in the Fairfax County Public Schools.
I’m sure you can guess where this is going to go. Cue the cheerleaders and the band. Several sources sent me a copy of the FCPS survey results, but I won’t post the full report until after Dale’s press conference on Monday. Here are some details I will share:
Focus group comments from the 2011 survey results (slide 29) show that stakeholders are concerned about the following areas of improvement for FCPS:
- Concerns that FCPS is becoming a business and not a community-parent based institution.
- Some initiatives go under the radar such as the decreasing honors program in the district.
- Too much trimming on the budget and parents do not know how decisions are being made on these items (this includes the thought process for and not only who is making decisions)
- Schools are not being treated equally in terms of funding, programming and class-sizes
The FCPS survey was conducted by the District Management Council. This is the same consulting group that surveyed FCPS stakeholders in the fall of 2009. DMC’s survey findings at that time showed “a lack of confidence in the Administration’s ability to allocate resources.” It’s interesting that the focus group comments detailed above seem to indicate the public still has a lack of confidence about FCPS’ resource allocations.
Think the press will ask the tough questions about these results tomorrow? Or will they parrot back FCPS’ carefully crafted press release? I’m betting on the latter. But just in case, here are some questions the press should consider asking the Superintendent.
1. How much did FCPS pay to the District Management Council (DMC) for this survey?
2. Does FCPS have a consulting contract with the DMC – and if so, for how much? DMC has done a lot of work for FCPS the past couple of years and lists several case studies about their work for FCPS on their website. Here’s one called: Improving Budget Communications with the Community: Fairfax County Public Schools. DMC doesn’t list their consulting fees on their website. But earlier this year, Lancaster County in Pennsylvania paid the DMC $75,000 for help in improving its schools. One Lancaster taxpayer posted a comment saying, “Wow – these administrators are being paid top dollar at the taxpayers expense to run the school district and they have to hire a firm to tell them how to do it.” Lancaster is a small district compared to Fairfax County, so what are we paying?!
3. In the interest of transparency, will FCPS release all the raw data for this survey? Will newly elected School Board members who campaigned on the issue of transparency have access to the raw data?
4. What is FCPS’ plan to address the needed areas of improvement as identified by the surveyed stakeholders?
Price Tag for Ann Arbor Public Schools Consultant: $441,130 (June 14, 2011 – AnnArbor.com)
Seminole Schools Spend a Bundle on Education Consultants (August 31, 2010 – Orlando Sentinel)
Boston Schools Seek Pricey Consultant (September 26, 2011 – Fox 25 Boston, MA)
$1 Million Survey on Newark Public School Reform Proves Inconclusive (January 6, 2011 – Dana Goldstein-The Nation)
More Consultant Spending Approved at January PEP Meeting (January 25, 2011 – NYC Public School Parents Blog)
Stimulus Leads to Frenzy of Demand for Consultants (January 28, 2011 – Edmoney.org)