Survey gauges support for education in Twinsburg schools

Views on hypothetical bond issues measured

APRIL HELMS R
eporter
The Twinsburg school district recently received the results of a February phone survey, which asked questions about education quality and proposed facility plan possibilities.

TWINSBURG – The majority of residents within the Twinsburg City School district who participated in a February phone survey – about 75% – thought that the quality of education provided by the schools was either excellent or good.

However, reactions were mixed regarding potential facilities plans, most of which included replacing Dodge Intermediate School.

Paul Fallon of Fallon Research and Communications, which was paid $15,000 to conduct the survey, said that 485 residents within the school district were randomly selected and contacted between Feb. 10 and 22.

Questions were asked and data collected through a combination of live telephone interviews and secure SMS or text-based surveys. The survey included questions about how district residents thought the schools were doing, what they thought about the property tax rates, and how they felt about a series of possible facilities plans.

Board President Mark Curtis said the results were “a lot of information to take in.” He added that because the survey was done in February, about a month before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered school buildings throughout the state, he felt the results could be different now.

When asked about how they would rate the quality of education in the district, 20% responded that they thought it was excellent, and 55% said it was good. About 13% said it was fair, 3% thought it was poor, and 1% thought it was very poor. About 8% responded that they were unsure.

Fallon said responses regarding the school district’s rate of taxation “does help to explain the lack of support for facilities funding … and suggests it was largely due to money.”

In the survey, 55% said they thought taxes were “pretty fair,” while 35% thought they were too high. About 8% responded that they were unsure, and 2% thought they were too low.

When asked about how the district does when it comes to managing its budget, 10% responded excellent, and 41% said good. About 23% said fair, 12% said poor and 14% responded they were unsure.

Those surveyed also were asked about their support for various ideas to renovate the school facilities.

The results varied widely. Making upgrades to the buildings, which would include new roofs and climate control systems, had an overwhelmingly favorable response, with 83% support. The proposition to create a new transportation facility where Dodge Intermediate School is now located also had strong support, with 60% saying this was a good idea.

After that, responders were more divided:

• 52% said they would favor moving first-grade students to Bissell Elementary;

• 52% said they would support creating a new annex between the high school and the Twinsburg Public Library;

• 48% said they would support replacing Dodge Intermediate with a new building next to the high school;

• 37% said that replacing Dodge with a new building at the same location was a good idea

• Only 33% supported the idea of relocating Tiger Stadium to make room for a new fourth- through sixth-grade school on that site.

Those taking the survey also were asked about their opinion on three separate, hypothetical bond issues.

• A $45 million, 30-year bond issue to replace Dodge and construct a new intermediate school near the high school, and pay for repairs and upgrades to the other buildings, which would include new roofs and climate control systems. About 42% said they would support it, 44% were against the plan, and 14% said they were unsure;

• A $60 million, 30-year bond issue, would include replacing Dodge with a new school building at the current Tiger Stadium site, and relocating the stadium next to the high school. This plan also would include a new transportation facility and a new annex between the library and high school, as well as upgrades and repairs at the other school facilities. Abut 36% said they were for this plan, 50% were against, and 14% were unsure;

• A $40 million, 30-year bond issue, would include replacing Dodge with a new building at the same location, and renovations and upgrades at the other school buildings. About 45% of those responding said they would vote for this plan, 39% said they would vote against, and 16% said they were unsure.

Fallon said the ideal standard for undertaking a levy campaign is 55% support, with 50% being that acceptable minimum support “to withstand erosion of support which sometimes happens to monetary requests during the course of elections.”

He added that this was not a campaign survey, but an attempt to get a general gauge of public opinion on potential ideas.

“There were no survey results which would indicate that a facilities plan was not potentially viable,” Fallon said.

Opposition seemed to be out of financial reasons, “although the public did not appear fully cognizant of the state of the Dodge school, which suggests that public engagement could be pivotal in building a consensus.”

Board member Robert Felber said he would be curious to see the data presented compared with data collected during the 2008 recession.

“A couple things jumped out at me,” Felber said. “We haven’t been running a campaign. We’ve done forums, but they were small groups.”

He added that if the district found professional opinions about the district’s facility needs, there could be more support for a possible bond issue.

More information and the presented slideshow can be found on the Twinsburg Board of Education’s YouTube channel, where the meeting was livestreamed.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com

A survey conducted in February gauged support for three scenarios involving bond issues to address facilities issues in the district.