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County teachers offer input on school needs

The Lincoln County School District is proud to report that 52.66percent of its teachers participated in an online survey the StateSuperintendent of Education says is pointed at understanding theneeds of teachers.

“We must know and understand the needs of our teachers so we canprovide them with the tools and resources they need to help ourstudents succeed,” said state Superintendent Dr. Hank M. Bounds ina release earlier this month.

The survey conducted earlier this year was part of Project ClearVoice, which asked teachers about their work environments, schoolleadership and autonomy among other things.

Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Terry Brister said histeachers were encouraged to do the survey because he felt anyfeedback he received could be beneficial to the schools.

“You might get some negative back, but then you can understandwhat’s going on with your teachers,” he said. “Nobody likes to hearthe negative, but we can learn from it.”

The preliminary report finds four primary things in the survey,in which more than 25,000 educators participated.

According to the survey, teachers are generally positive abouttheir teaching and learning conditions, they feel leadership iscritical to retaining educators, they need more time to plan andcollaborate, and teachers need more opportunities to participate inthe decision-making process.

Brister said his office had been given the findings for theLincoln County School District, but officials had not had time towade through them.

The findings will not actually be made public until later thissummer. Brister said Clear Voice officials were giving schoolofficials time to go over them and begin working on thefindings.

The superintendent said, however, it’s definitely on theschedule for later in the summer to go over and address the issuesbrought up by the survey.

“Right now we’re getting reloaded for next year, because at thisstage of the summer we’ve just gotten done with graduation. Nowwe’re hiring personnel and ordering textbooks,” Brister said. “Butonce we’ve finished those things, we will turn our full attentionto these concerns – because if your teachers aren’t happy, no oneis happy.”

Meanwhile, Brookhaven Schools did not actively encourage theirteachers to participate in the survey, although Superintendent LeaBarrett said she did inform them about the survey if they wanted toparticipate.

“People don’t generally respond to these types of surveys unlessthey’re unhappy,” she said. “And I feel like our school board is soopen that if there were any significant problems, they would havetold us already.”

Brookhaven’s teachers did not log enough participation to have areport released to the district. Schools had to have at least 40percent participation for the specific survey results to becalculated for their individual schools.

Other overall findings in the survey among Mississippi schoolswere that 79 percent of teachers agree their school environment issafe. Also, 84 percent said educators believe the faculty iscommitted to helping every student learn.

Eighty-three percent of educators believe teachers are held tohigh professional standards of teaching.

The numbers are lower on the issues of time, class sizes anddecision-making.

Forty-eight percent believe the time they’re given fornon-instructional issues is sufficient, and only 54 percent believethe class sizes are reasonable. Most feel they are not included indecision-making about educational issues, with 60 percent sayingthey’d like more input.