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LCUSD Gleans Room for Improvement from Survey Results

Executive Director of Programs and Services Karen Hurley presented the results of the 2023 annual perception survey that was administered to students grades 4 to 12, teachers, staff and parents and caregivers through the months of March and April.
The purpose of the surveys is to collect perceptions and feedback from the district’s educational partners.
“We use the feedback to make adjustments for the following school year, in order to make improvements,” said Hurley in the district’s June 27 meeting.
“I’ve selected a few key areas that I wanted to share with you from our student responses,” said Hurley.
Overall, 70% of elementary students felt like they “belonged completely” or “quite a bit.”
“So, this is actually the same percent that we saw last year,” said Hurley. “However, we see an additional 20% of students feel that they ‘somewhat belong.’”
Students, overall, felt 61% engaged in their classes, which is a 1% increase from last year’s results.
About 90% of students felt like their school takes effective actions to promote the safety and security of students.
“Last year, only 5th- and 6th-grade students were surveyed on this question, and the result was 94%,” said Hurley.
Elementary students were also able to submit two things that they really liked about their school. Words that stood out included playground, aids, campus, friends and library to name a few.
There were 252 positive comments on teachers and 92 on the options of electives such as music and art.
“Overall, there were 751 positive comments made by students grades 4 to 6,” said Hurley. “So, it was evident how much students love to play at recess, and the strong social and emotional relations they have with their friends.”
As for things to improve at elementary schools, students wrote about the bathrooms, student littering, school lunches and student conflicts.
“A hundred and fifteen students wrote about bathrooms and focused on the need for cleaner bathrooms,” said Hurley.
Some of the areas of improvement next year include working with food services to address food choices, working with elementary principals to come up with a monitoring system for the bathrooms to ensure that they are cleaned regularly and work with the maintenance department to add more trash cans.
“The bathroom thing comes up literally every year,” said LCUSD Vice President Josh Epstein. “Is it solvable in some way? It doesn’t seem like an unsolvable problem, but it’s in the high school [survey] and the elementary one and last year’s [survey].”
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said that the elementary schools have tried to set up a system where, at a set time, a custodian would go in and do wipe down and restock supplies, and would sign a sheet to state that they had done it.
“I think it has always been prioritized, but we share your frustration that it continues to come up and so maybe we can find a foolproof solution or make some steady progress this year,” said Sinnette.
LCUSD president Joe Radabaugh also suggested creating fun signs in the bathroom to encourage students to clean up after themselves.
Board Member Dan Jeffries does think that an hourly service to keep the bathrooms fresh would be a good idea.


With an increase of 2% from last year’s results, about 41% of students said that they feel like they belong at LCHS either “entirely” or “quite a bit.”
Epstein asked why the percentages were so low and if Hurley could explain further.
Sinnette picked up the question and said belongingness is a high priority.
“I think we can do better,” said Sinnette. “In terms of why we are low, I think that coming out of the pandemic, you are probably looking at students trying to gain their footing. We are seeing the wellness center be extremely active, and probably the students who don’t feel like they belong aren’t taking in the services that are offered by the wellness center.
“I think we need to build some more strategic practices so that we are really identifying who is out there because all it takes is to have one important adult relationship or a friendship group or a club or activities that make you feel like you belong, and solidifies your connection to the campus,” she added.
LCHS can be a challenging school and can have students who are not performing well, which can then influence behavior and how they feel toward the school, said Sinnette.
LCUSD Board Member Octavia Thuss questioned if the results would be different if they compared 7th- and 8th-grade results to 9-12th grade since they are in a unique position where they have a combined campus.
About 31% of 7-12 students were interested in their classes last school year, and 88% of them think that the school takes effective actions to promote the safety and security of students.
Sinnette said that even though the school has programs that target areas like fentanyl awareness or safety drills, they can also raise anxiety or fear of something happening.
Students were able to comment on things that the school does well, which received 1,142 responses, and included topics such as the wellness center, campus, good teachers and events.
About 168 students wrote comments about the bathrooms and how the school needs to improve cleanliness. Longer lunch periods and better food were also mentioned as something that needed improvement.
“Some of the areas for focus next year for 7 to 12 will be to continue to work with food services to adjust the areas of concern related to food choices,” said Hurley. “We currently do have a QR code system in all of our bathrooms at the high school, so if there is missing toilet paper or the bathroom needs to be cleaned, kids can scan the code with their phones and send a message that goes right to the custodian.”


There were 171 responses from teachers, and about 90% of teachers said that their school leaders are friendly toward them, which is a 3% increase from last year.
About 55% of teachers said the working environment is positive.
Overall, 97% of teachers felt that their school takes effective actions to promote their safety and security, which was the same result as the previous year.
This past year, teachers and staff received training focused on an active shooter drill.
“Teachers and staff were appreciative of the training and felt better informed and prepared,” said Hurley. “At the elementary sites, all perimeter gates are up and remain closed all day. At the high school, entry points have been narrowed, and at all campuses, additional cameras have been installed, and locking mechanisms on doors have been improved.”


Staff results included 177 responses.
A drop of 6% from last year, 82% of staff said that their school leaders are friendly.
“We need to improve the staff leadership climate and work a little bit more on being inclusive with our classified staff,” said Hurley.
Overall, 69% of staff said they work in a positive environment which isn’t a change from the previous year’s results.
Almost all staff surveyed, or 98%, said that LCUSD takes effective actions to promote their safety and security, which is a 2% increase from last year.


A total of 1,724 families or caregivers took the survey, and 74% of them said that they think their children enjoy going to school.
About 73% of families believe there is a sense of belonging at their school, and 95% of them feel that their school takes effective actions to promote safety and security.
Overall, Hurley said that the things that LCUSD is doing well include mental health, school activities, the wellness center, teachers and playground spaces.
Some of the next steps they will be working on for the next year include restroom QR codes, restroom monitoring, school belonging and student-teacher relationships.
“We really want to see those green arrows of improvement everywhere each year,” said Epstein. “I am really happy to see the year-over-year change, which I think is really important because even in the places where we are not doing as well as I like. It’s nice to see if we are making improvements or if we are not.”
The Board also asked for improvement in the number of responses in each group.
The response rates from each group included: 89.7% or 776 for elementary students; 90.2% for middle school students; 64.2% for high school students; 67.5% for teachers and staff; 23.3% for families and caregivers.

First published in the August 3 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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