AW Schools Seek More Input In Districtwide Survey

Rachael Lehman, a Whitehouse Primary School teacher, guides the morning kindergarten class through sounding out and spelling words. After the defeat of both a bond issue and operational levy, all-day, every-day kindergarten remains off the table. District residents are asked to take a survey at www.anthonywayneschools.org to guide the board and administration in its next steps. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — “Please provide your thoughts.”

That’s what Anthony Wayne Local Schools (AWLS) would like the district’s more than 24,000 registered voters to do by Wednesday, December 20.

After voters turned down a 2.9-mill operational levy and a 2.6-mill bond issue on November 7, the district launched an online survey with multiple choice and open-ended questions covering everything from pride in the district to confidence in how finances are handled and how the district should move forward.

“The additional input from the survey will help the district better understand why these proposals failed and give insight into how district residents would like us to move forward,” said Superintendent Dr. Jim Fritz. “It is always the district’s goal to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars, and this feedback will inform the board and district administration as they work to balance the budget while still remaining a high-quality educational experience.”

Launched on November 17, the online survey has garnered 845 responses so far, but most of the respondents have indicated that they are employees or have children or grandchildren in the district. It’s difficult to determine how many residents have another connection to the school, such as being alumni.

“We would like more input from those voters who do not have a direct connection to our schools,” Fritz said, noting that an estimated 70 percent of residents don’t have a student in the district.

Those taking the survey will be asked to rate the quality of the AWLS educational experience and answer if the district is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, if the schools provide good value for the money and if AWLS provides adequate information about finances.

The survey also asks to “please provide your thoughts” on next steps the district should take with the failure of both the operational levy and bond issue.

One question refers to a 2016 facilities master plan in which stakeholders said building enrollment should be capped at 500, yet a 2023 survey showed that a fourth primary building should not be added because it would require students to be redistricted. That’s why a bond issue was set to include funds for additional classrooms at Waterville and Whitehouse primary schools to accommodate increased enrollment and all-day, every-day kindergarten. The bond issue was also set to raise funds for facilities maintenance, improvements and expansions. 

An operational levy was also set to fund the all-day, every-day kindergarten and other instructional costs.

“Without funding provided by the new operational levy, the district will need to make financial decisions to balance the budget. Please provide your thoughts about how the district should increase revenue and reduce expenditures,” the survey asks.

To take the survey, visit www.anthonywayneschools.org by the Wednesday, December 20 deadline. The survey can be found under the “Quick Links” tab at the top of the home page. Anyone wishing to complete a paper version of the survey may request one at the Central Administrative Office, (419) 877-5377.

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