Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2001

Phone survey brings good and bad news

Mistakes raise questions as telephone poll shows voters would support bond

May 17, 2001

A phone survey approved by the Eudora Board of Education indicates the community would support a fall bond issue to fund building a new high school. However, some may question the accuracy of the survey due to a mistake in the survey process.

Last Wednesday, the board was presented with the results of a random phone survey conducted by The Research Center, Wichita. The results indicated that out of 301 residents interviewed in the Eudora area, 82 percent favored building a new, 500-student high school and moving sixth- through eighth-grade classes to the current high school facility.

The center had conducted 106 interviews when one phone interviewee pointed out the board was discussing moving sixth- through eighth-grade classes, yet during his interview he was asked about moving only seventh- and eighth-grade to the new high school.

Former superintendent Dave Winans, who resigned Monday, said the center contacted him about the error in the survey. Winans and two other board members had approved the questions before the study began. Since rewording the question and starting over would mean additional costs, the district gave the company permission to change the question and proceed.

"I have to take responsibility for that," Winans said. "It was simply in the context of moving the middle school and it was an oversight. We should have said sixth, seventh and eighth from the get go."

Gloria Summers, senior research analyst for The Research Center, said the questions used were as directed by Winans and the board representatives.

"It's an issue that, had we known about it going into the study, we would have addressed it with a different question," Summers said.

Of the 106 interviews regarding seventh- and eighth-graders, 82 percent favored the move, versus 13 percent again and five percent undecided. Of the 195 interviews regarding moving the sixth- through eighth-graders, 67 percent were in favor of the move with 21 percent against and seven percent undecided.

Summers said the overall idea remains the same a majority of the interviews were in favor of the move, yet not all favored moving the sixth-grade students.

"Would it have been a stronger survey if that question had been in there from the beginning? Undoubtedly," she said. "It indicates that there's something going on with the sixth graders. Whatever decision they make needs to be communicated that's in the works for the sixth graders."

Dan Lee, owner of Northstar Research Group, Oklahoma City, said though the questions are different through the survey, the results appear to support the issue.

"On face value, I would say the percentages that you have are dramatic enough to support a move," Lee said. "It looks to me like they're in favor of it."

Board president Marion Johnson said he was unaware if the board will redo the survey, but he remained confident the results indicate support for building a new high school.

"There's been no discussion (for another survey)," Johnson said. "I'm not sure that caused any great inaccuracy. That's my personal opinion."

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