With thousands of students covering such a wide area, the Freehold Regional High School District conducted a survey of its community this past summer to get a sense of how they are perceived by not only students and parents but district employees and local residents as well.
At Monday's meeting of the district's board of education, the results of that survey generally received as a positive reaction. A total of 1851 surveys were completed with the bulk of the participants being students and employees in the district. The survey looked at a variety of topics including problems facing the district, areas for possible improvement and places the district might be able to make cost saving cuts.
Overall, the best marks for the district came for its curriculum and academic programs and, according to a survey, the district was deemed to be a "good place to learn." Along with that, 82 percent of students who took the survey said they either agreed or somewhat agreed that extra help is available for their classwork outside of the classroom.
One of the most prevalent concerns of people taking the survey was drugs and alcohol abuse by students which was noted on 37 percent of the surveys.
Another area mentioned as possibly needing improvement is discipline in the schools. The survey summary noted that only 37 percent of students strongly or somewhat agreed that discipline was not an issue at their school.
Parents who took the survey said one of their biggest concerns was the training their children were getting for life beyond high school. This was also an area of concern with students with 64 percent of parents saying more time should be devoted to building skills needed for a job. For students that number was 67 percent.
When it came to things parents would like to see cut in order to maintain a balanced budget many people who took the survey said they would like to see cuts to administrative jobs rather than to the district's academics. Community member said they would also like to see sports and extra curriculars cut to help balance the budget.
For an overall score the district was graded on a scale of 1-to-4. In the summary it was reported that the majority of the district's stakeholders gave a grade of a "B" or a 2.85 out of four. Of the three groups the employees gave the highest score at a 3.25 while students gave a 2.69.
Superintendent Charles Sampson said the survey is the continuation of a process that had included a strategic planning process and getting input from the community. "Perspective is important to see how different groups feel about different programs and different aspects of the schools," he said. "It was a learning tool for us."
Sampson said he was pleased to see the district's employees giving such positive responses especially since it was done in the heart of negotiations for a new contract. "To come back that positive is a testament to our faculty and staff's commitment to this place," he said.
The survey showed that communication and support were both highly regarded by the staff. One area they were not happy with as professional development which only 37 percent said they were satisfied with.
Breaking the scores down by grade Freehold High School gave the highest marks with an average score of 3.06 while Manalapan and Marlboro were the lowest with scores of 2.68 and 2.67 respectively.