D153 gets high marks in staff survey

A staff survey of Homewood District 153 staff got positive responses, and nearly 150 additional comments on the workings of Willow, Churchill and James Hart Schools and the district office.

The district received 183 responses, or approximately two-thirds of the 300 teachers and support staff. The climate and culture in District 153 survey was administered in January. 

The district got an 83% overall strongly agree or agree response to the 20 questions in the survey, although three were open-ended and asked for opinions and feedback. Questions touched on a variety of topics, including feeling valued and appreciated, work environment, the district’s mission and the cleanliness of the school buildings.

The submissions were anonymous, but staff were asked to designate what building they work in. 


“One of the reasons we did the survey is to find out how best we can support (teachers),” Superintendent Scott McAlister said during the Feb. 12 board meeting. He believes the district team does a good job at managing the schools and supporting staff, “but I’m not about to say we’re perfect and that there’s not room for growth. One of the goals is to take this information and say what can we take from this.”

The questionnaire classified responses as strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree. McAlister said the survey avoided a neutral response because “we wanted people to choose a side. Often when you give people a neutral response, a lot of people just fall right in the middle in the neutral category. And when you’re getting the results, it’s difficult to say why they’re saying uncertain or no strong feelings either way.”

The final two questions on the survey brought high marks for the district. 

  • “I am proud to be an employee in my school” got 78 strongly agree and 95 agree with 10 disagree responses.
  • “I am proud to be an employee of Homewood District 153” got 77 strongly agree and 99 agree with 7 disagree responses.

McAlister said the survey is helpful, but the additional comments are especially important.

Staff gave 140 responses when asked to share what they believe the district does well, and what can be improved.

“That’s where you get some detailed information that’s quite helpful to us as we try to make this the best destination for people to work,” the superintendent said. “The intent of the survey is to recruit people to our district by offering them a good place to work and keep them once they’re here. And I would think that this certainly makes me happy that it’s 83%, but until we get to 100% I’m always going to be saying what can we doing differently and better. That’s really the ultimate goal, to improve as an institution.”

School board members said they were happy with the results — both the positive numbers and the comments. Board member Ron Zinnerman said getting 140 responses  “is phenomenal” and tells him staff is comfortable offering their opinions and feedback.

Board member Jim Schmidt said he read through the comments and appreciated the feedback.

“From what I saw, everything to improve is doable. The staff has always been there to step up for their students — that message was loud and clear in the responses: There isn’t anything we won’t do for our students,” he said. “Our next step is to start addressing (the suggestions) … They’re attainable over the next several years.”

Schmidt also applauded McAlister for his initiative to reach out to future teachers in the Golden Apple Program to recruit them to District 153 for their first job. 

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