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Joplin School Board Seeks Input - KOAM TV 7

Joplin School Board Seeks Input

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

When Norm Ridder took his position as Interim Joplin Schools Superintendent, he started randomly interviewing teachers. 

After talking to about 40 in the district, he says there's a strong lack of trust. Describing the district as dysfunctional. 

"The response by the district should be to the students, and the parents, and the teachers. Rather than the teachers, parents, and students responding to the central office," Ridder said.

Now he wants to ask the school district constituency how to fix it.

"So we'll be talking to teachers, parents, community members," said opinion research specialist Marc Maness. He's worked with Ridder at other school districts to get accurate and comprehensive input from the community. 

"Through focus groups, and then one-on-one design work," Maness said. "From that we will put together a strategic vision."

Maness says the research allows for a scientifically based strategy; getting a fuller picture of district needs, as opposed to relying on parents attending school board meetings. 

"It's very specific and methodical," Maness said. "We make sure we interview the individuals we know will represent the district. But then we back that up. The quantitative surveys. And would probably be a phone survey and some online surveys."

Although the school boards hasn't taken a vote, the district will begins collecting data immediately. 

"I think it's very much needed," Board member Sallie Beard said. "You need to know where you are before you can know where you want to head in the future."

"We need to make sure we're not just answering those that are yelling the loudest," School board president Jeff Koch said. 

"Basically, we're gonna find out what Joplin wants for it's educational system," Ridder said. "And that's what the system does. And that's what the strategic plan does."

The board didn't set a budget when it comes to the data collection. Ridder says it shouldn't cost more than $55,000 and suggested using reserve fund, or receiving support from the Community Foundation.

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