The Osceola School board discussed disseminating a community survey to test community opinions of an increase in operational spending at their most recent meeting. 

“At the last board work session we discussed the needs for the district. Not just the elementary school but also the operational needs and looking ahead to 2022,” said district business manager Lynette Edwards. “I think we left the meeting with the idea that operational needs would have to be our priority. And we talked about whether we should survey for the support within the district and use that as a communication tool to let our community know why we need operational dollars.” 

The district is working with School Perceptions, an independent research firm based in Slinger, Wisc., to formulate the survey. It would cost the district just under $7,000 to conduct the survey. 

“It really gives us an opportunity to educate our community members,” Edwards said. “To tell our story, our what, our why and our how.”

She said this is especially important given the estimated increase in operational costs. 

“If we’re looking at going from a two-year, $1 million operational to a $2 million, as a taxpayer I would be asking why we need double,” she said. 

Edwards said a good option to test the tax tolerance within the community would be to survey the feedback on multiple options. 

“We could survey a good, better, tax tolerance within the community would be to survey the feedback on multiple options. 

“We could survey a good, better, best,” she said. “Good would be we’re maintaining our programming with maybe some reductions, better would be this is the dollar amount and we’re keeping all of our programing, and the best would be this is what the tax impact would be and we’re going to be adding programs.”

The board also floated the idea of including questions on facility spending, particularly at the grade school. Repairs on the building have been discussed at length, but the 2020 referendum did not address many grade school specific issues. 

The rate of return on the last survey the district conducted was 14%. School Perceptions averages between 18-20% on their surveys as a whole, and concludes that a survey needs to hit around a 19% return rate to deliver reliable data. 

“If we’re going to invest this kind of money, we need to get at least a 19% turnout,” said board member Brian Meyer. “If last time we only got 14% back, was that real data?” 

Sup. Mark Luebker said he’s hopeful this time around the district can utilize their communication tools effectively to increase the response rate. 

“I think there’s definitely more online activity on our website and even on social media, to get the message out,” he said. “So we’re getting feedback from all of our stakeholders.” 

Edwards said the plan is to begin work on the survey right away. 

“We’d want to get working on it as soon as possible,” she said. “And have it land in mailboxes in early to mid October.” 

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