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Poor Communication Cited in School District Trust Survey


BRADENTON -- The outcome of the 2011 Manatee County School District's "Trust Survey" was similar to the 2008 report with one difference -- a little less trust in some areas. The heart of the survey was a thumbs up or down to a list of 13 itemized statements designed to reflect the level of trust, communication, confidence, assistance and reprisal embodied within the functions of the school district.

In addition, were anonymously submitted comments reflecting the environment in which teachers, principals, supervisors and district heads must coexist. The majority of the responders (64 percent) were instructional staff.

The results of the survey are from the 2,274 that participated, of the 5,627 surveys that were emailed out. They were defined by two categories; Site level and District level. Site level generally shared a higher trust then did the District level, but both shared an increase in overall trust and cooperation then was reported in 2008. Two major exceptions that were in the list of 13 were; In 2011, 39% agreed they trusted district level administrators to follow through on their promises -- compared to 49% in 2008, a 10% decline. And the other, 44% trusted their district level colleagues to keep their promises, compared to 49% in 2008, a 5% decline.

Poor communication was cited as reason for the erosion of trust; supervisors slow to inform employees about important issues, their unwillingness to provide feedback and the overall lack of clarity had many feeling left out of the loop. This disconnect was reported to have been felt most, when attempting to communicate with the Superintendent's Delta Team (District's Educational Leadership Team Assembly). Some felt their lack of "in classroom" experience strained relations.

Although some felt isolated, others remained positive about the direction the district's strategy plan "EdVanatge" is leading them. Many reflect support for Superintendent Tim McGonegal, his staff, DELTA and are confident they will make the needed changes.

In conclusion, the recommendations based on survey results suggested the implementation of increased visibility at all levels, building more trust, improving relationships by seeing through commitments and marketing open discussions that include the Superintendent and DELTA. It suggests exploring the symptomatic characteristics that were expressed in the study, to work through the communication barriers.


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