Results from a Harford County Public Schools satisfaction survey show that students, as well as parents, are overall satisfied with their school's performance, according to information presented to the school board Monday evening.

More than 91 percent of parents surveyed are satisfied with HCPS' communication efforts. Students in grades six through 11, however, differed greatly when it came to cleanliness of schools and being informed on their academic progress.

Many students, in fact, gave low marks to the schools' cleanliness, a fact that clearly upset one board member.

In addition to going over the satisfaction survey Monday, the school board also decided to defer final action on the 2013 budget to have more time to consider the impact of state aid reductions. A final vote on the budget will be taken Jan. 30.


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Students, parents respond to survey

All students through 11th grade were given satisfaction surveys to complete in April 2011 on their "perceptions about aspects of school climate, as well as academic interest and engagement," Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for HCPS, explained during the board meeting.

Kranefeld, along with Leeann Schubert, school improvement coordinator, and Phil Snyder, assistant supervisor, presented the survey results, as well as those of a December parent satisfaction survey, to the board.

More than 90 percent of students responded to the survey, and 4,644 surveys were completely by parents. The school system has about 38,000 students.

The survey results from both groups were mostly positive and the goal of the surveys, Schubert said, explaining the purpose was to "assess perceptions" of the school system, not individual schools.

Kranefeld and Schubert noted they will give the results to principals, individual departments and their directors to apply to their individual schools.

For students in kindergarten through second grade, 93.8 percent felt that when their teacher spoke, they paid attention, nearly 94 percent felt they are treated fairly by their teachers and almost 95 percent agreed that when they try, they can learn.

In grades three through five, 93.7 percent agreed they learn a lot in school, 94.2 percent agreed with the statement, "In my classes we have to think and work hard," and 94.8 percent said they work hard in school.

Almost 90 percent of students grades six through 11 said they come to school regularly, while 87.7 percent said their teachers believe they can learn. Also, 82.1 percent of students said their teachers have high expectations of them.

The vast majority of parents, 91.3 percent, responded that they are satisfied with the school system's efforts to communicate, while 87.3 percent of parents said they were satisfied with their individual school's communication.

"From a communications standpoint, I'm very pleased with these results," Kranefeld said.

Where the two groups varied also showed on the survey results.

Parents overwhelmingly (95 percent) responded that they believe the schools are clean, while only 60.1 percent of students in grades six through 11 agreed. Elementary school students fell closer to parent results - 84.6 percent in kindergarten through second grade and 80.5 percent in third through fifth.

Board of education member Bob Frisch appeared to be disheartened by this result.

He said the expense the school system puts into keeping its facilities clean and the statistic from the survey were "out of sync."

Frisch then requested that the board look closer at each school and assess student perceptions in their specific buildings. He noted that a school's cleanliness has an effect on a student's performance.