Citing a likely repeat of last year’s data and the tight financial straits ahead for next year’s budget, members of the Katonah-Lewisboro school board were unable to come to a consensus at their meeting on Nov. 15 on whether to issue a community survey, and the question was dismissed for the year.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Kreutzer opened the discussion with a request for the board’s consent to repeat last year’s survey to gauge public sentiment on the district’s performance.
“For me the data is invaluable,” board President Mark Lipton said.
Last year’s survey was conducted via phone and mail, with this year’s possibly being reduced to phone surveys to save costs, Dr. Kreutzer said.
“I like this for its democratic value,” he said. “This would be a good opportunity for you [the board] to get a vibe from your community on several different topics.”
The survey previously included questions regarding taxes, academic performance and district spending.
Some board members were concerned that no new information would come from another survey, and at a cost of $4,000 to $7,000 it may not be worth the expense.
“Do you honestly think the budget questions are going to come out any different than they did last year? I do not,” board member Stephanie Tobin said. “I don’t think another survey is that helpful right now.”
She added that the data already on hand from last year is still valid and valuable.
Board member Marjorie Schiff also asked whether the same questions should be used or if new ones should be added.
“Quite frankly my feeling on this is that anything we are going to spend that is going to deduct from our academics the following year, I think we should be thinking very carefully about,” board member Dr. Peter Treyz said. “We are now $1.5 million in the hole, and just to be very conservative we should not spend anything because we need to spend everything for academics for the school kids.”
Ms. Schiff seconded Mr. Treyz’s statement.
“I am not saying these surveys don’t have value,” she said. “We’d better really know what it is we hope to get from these surveys and what we plan to do with the data, and if we don’t then why are we surveying these people?”