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Education

Glen Ellyn District 41 board receives low marks from staff members in survey

School Perceptions President Bill Foster discusses the results of a recent Glen Ellyn School District 41 survey at a Board of Education meeting March 7.
School Perceptions President Bill Foster discusses the results of a recent Glen Ellyn School District 41 survey at a Board of Education meeting March 7.

GLEN ELLYN – A large percentage of Glen Ellyn School District 41 staff members do not think the Board of Education is leading the district in the right direction, according to a recent district survey.

The survey was completed by 312 staff members, a 75-percent participation rate. Wisconsin-based School Perceptions conducted the survey in January and February.

In addition, 957 parents responded to the survey, along with 1,788 students. The survey results are posted on the district's website, d41.org.

When asked in 2014 if the board presented a positive image to the school community, staff members gave the board an average rating of 3.95 out of 4. That dropped to 2.41 in the recent survey, with only 32 percent of those surveyed agreeing with that statement.

Staff members gave the board a 3.84 rating in 2014 when they were asked if the board is doing what it takes to make the district successful. That rating dropped to 2.78 in the most recent survey, with only 46 percent of those surveyed agreeing with that statement.

The perception of the school board among parents dropped slightly, from 2.8 in 2014 to 2.73 in the most recent survey, with 4 being "excellent."

Board members discussed the survey results at their March 7 meeting. Secretary Dean Elger voiced concerns about the results and comments from staff and parents in the survey regarding "infighting" on the board.

"I don't believe the people of Glen Ellyn elected us to be rude to each other," Elger said. "I think that until we work on this item, we don't have credibility to work on anything else."

Board President Erica Nelson called the survey results and comments about the board "alarming."

"This board is not performing its duty to govern," Nelson said. "Staff comments said that the board displays behaviors that demonstrate a lack of respect for the role of the board and a lack of understanding, bordering on disrespect, for the critical difference between governance versus acting on specific interests."

In reacting to the survey results, board member Kurt Buchholz said he would "continue to do his job as a board member."

"Stephanie and I were elected to be fiscally responsible, hold people accountable and to be transparent," Buchholz said. "If there are negative comments about me individually that are in there, I have no problem with those being posted. I have a business in town. I feed my family based on my reputation. It's OK that people have an opinion about me."

Buchholz and Stephanie Clark were elected to the board in April 2015.

Superintendent Paul Gordon tried to point out the positive results the survey showed.

"We have improvement across the board from our parents and our staff at each of the schools on different topics," Gordon said. "At the end of the day, we've got to remember that we have a pretty great district here. Can we continue to improve? We can. We absolutely can."

Gordon said he will be meeting with staff members in the coming weeks to talk to them about their concerns.

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