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Survey shows support for new high school

Alexandria School District 206 leaders found out last week that the community supports a plan to build a new high school.

At a special work session last Monday, December 21, Don Lifto from Springsted Inc., the district's financial advisor, presented the results of a community survey conducted in October.

The survey indicated that overall, the community appears to be in support of the district's long-range plan, which includes building a new high school.

"The big picture is that the news is encouraging," Lifto told board members and administrators.

Lifto explained that the survey involved 400 completed telephone interviews with registered voters in the Alexandria School District.

The interviews were completed between October 16 and October 20, and had an overall margin of error of plus/minus 4.5 percent.

Although the survey focused on a new high school, there were other questions dealing with a wide range of topics, including how well the school district keeps the public informed, building needs, idea of a capital campaign, how the district would be graded and how well the district spends taxpayer dollars.

In a question about whether or not those interviewed would be in favor of a bond referendum for the new high school, 52.5 percent were in favor of passing a bond to pay for a new high school, while 43.8 percent were opposed to it and 3.8 percent were undecided.

The question was asked without giving the respondents much information about the bond, noted Lifto.

After the respondents were provided with more information about the bond referendum, another question was asked, "Now that you have heard some information about the bond the district is considering...would you favor or oppose a local school bond that would raise the funds needed to replace Jefferson High School?"

Of the 400 respondents, 60 percent said they would be in favor of passing a bond, while 37 percent were opposed to the idea and 2.8 percent were undecided.

Lifto told school officials that having above 50 percent is "very positive."

He told them, "This is encouraging and a positive sign as to where you are today [in regard to holding a bond referendum]."

During the survey, respondents were asked if the district considered doing a capital fund raising campaign, which would mean private donations would be used to help reduce the amount of the bond, would they be more likely or less likely to support the bond referendum.

Nearly 70 percent - 68.8 percent - of the survey takers indicated they would be more likely or much more likely to support a bond referendum.

As for how the school district rates among those taking the survey, 75 percent said they would give District 206 schools an "A" or a "B" for quality of the schools.

In addition, 74 percent consider District 206 school buildings and facilities to be above average to excellent; 86 percent of the respondents believe the management of finances is average to excellent; 92 percent believe the public is well informed about the district's long-range plans; and 73 percent agree or strongly agree that District 206 can be trusted to spend local tax dollars wisely.

In a news release provided by the district, board chair Dean Anderson said, "These community survey results provide the board with a good data set from which to make future decisions for Phase II. The school board is very mindful of the current economic climate and recognizes that a Phase II project must reflect the priorities of the taxpayers as well as the needs of our students."