Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2006

Board briefs for survey

December 14, 2006

When Eudora USD 491 begins a telephone survey in January, Ken DeSieghardt of DeSieghardt Strategic Communications LLC will make sure the district hears from the right people.

The district hired DeSieghardt to draft and administer the survey in an effort to gauge public opinion of a planned $40 million bond issue to be put before voters in November 2007.

DeSieghardt presented the basic format of the survey last Thursday to the school board during a special meeting.

"The survey itself will not make the decision for you; it will inform your decision," DeSieghardt said.

The surveyors will direct questions toward the people who are normally silent ---- those who are not particularly happy or unhappy with the district, DeSieghardt said.

"We'll hear form people in that middle group -- people that vote but don't ever talk to you about how the feel," DeSieghardt said.

The district will gather views and demographic data from 250 people within its boundaries. Half of those surveyed will be people who have lived in Eudora for more than five years while the other half will have lived in the district for less than that period.

The 10-minute calls will begin with the caller asking the participant to grade the district in a set of criteria. DeSieghardt offered the example of rating the district on how it allocates funds between education and athletics.

"What that does for us is really two things ---- it provides information about where we stand right now before we come to the voters next November, and it shows us if there are concerns in areas we don't normally hear about," DeSieghardt said.

The next part of the survey would measure public support on the various aspects of the bond.

To find exactly what the board wanted to know most, DeSieghardt asked the school board to lead him through the highlights of the bond.

DeSieghardt took down notes, including the construction of a new first- through fifth-grade school building, an expanded auditorium for Eudora High School and the construction of a new football stadium south of Kansas Highway 10.

The middle questions will be written in a very matter-of-fact tone, DeSieghardt said.

"We're not selling; we're telling," DeSieghardt said.

The survey will conclude with questions to gauge the public's comfort level on the financial aspects of the bond. The caller will ask patrons how they feel in regard to possible mill rate increases, DeSieghardt said.

The survey will take about two weeks to complete once it starts after school resumes in January, DeSieghardt said.

DeSieghardt said a contracting research company in Leawood would be making the calls.

After surveying wraps up, DeSieghardt will take about a week to break down the findings for the board, he said.

The board will offer DeSieghardt's input throughout the drafting process.

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