Following a one-year lapse during last year's lockdown, Pleasanton Unified School District's annual school quality stakeholder survey returned this spring and will be the focal point of discussion at the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, starting 6 p.m.
According to results from the third annual survey -- which was available on the district's website, and taken by a total 11,706 students, parents and staff from April 20 to May 24 -- "survey participant sentiment toward (the) district and school quality has increased across all stakeholder groups" during the pandemic.
The district said, however, "It is important to note that the survey results do not reflect random sampling," and "should not be generalized to all PUSD parents, community members, staff members, and students in grades 6-12."
"Rather, the results reflect only the perceptions and opinions of survey participants," officials said.
During spring, parents and staff were emailed unique links to the survey, which was also translated into Chinese and Spanish for the version taken by parents, and students used their student IDs to access the survey in school.
Participants answered questions "focused on aspects of school climate including academic support, student support, school leadership, family involvement, safety and behavior, as well as communication and community building." Questions about special education, section 504 plans, COVID-19 response and remote learning, and overall school quality were also included.
"A strong majority of all three participant groups gave their school a high rating," according to the survey report, with 91% of campus-based staff rating their school's overall quality as excellent or good.
The approval rate for the same question also went up for all three participant groups since the last survey was conducted in 2019, when 86% of parents and 85% of students in grades 6-12 said the same.
Though "most survey items had increases in favorable responses from all three participant groups," the report said "the greatest increases were in the communication and community building dimension."
"For example, 75% parents said that district leaders maintain open lines of communication with the community, an increase of 25 percentage points from 50% in 2018-2019," the report said.
An approximately equal number of students and staff members said the same (65% and 63%, respectively). Students also had a 27 percentage-point increase since the last survey, while staff members had a 12 percentage-point increase.
When it comes to building trust with the community, 63% of students and parents said PUSD leaders have done so, but only 45% of staff members agreed. However, "that is a 16 percentage-point increase from 29%" among staff since the 2019 survey, according to the report.
Concluding with its key takeaways, the report said the district will "continue to have many reasons to celebrate and areas for follow up in our work moving forward" in academic and student support, communication, and community building.
Looking ahead, officials plan to "focus on increasing participation this year and continue to pay attention to if/how data changes for areas of growth/celebration," and said "ongoing conversations will be helpful for fully understanding the data and developing action plans."
In other business
* The school board will review and potentially approve a proposed spending plan for COVID-19 related funds on Thursday.
After receiving more than $2.1 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds recently from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, PUSD "must explain how it intends to use its ESSER III funds to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as any opportunity gaps that existed before, and were worsened by, the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a staff report.
Funds may also be used "in other ways to implement additional actions to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as to address opportunity gaps, consistent with the allowable uses identified in the fiscal requirements."
Staff said the district's "decisions about how to use its ESSER III funds will directly impact the students, families, and the local community, and the plan must be tailored to the specific needs faced by students and schools."
"These community members will have significant insight into what prevention and mitigation strategies should be pursued to keep students and staff safe, as well as how the various COVID–19 prevention and mitigation strategies impact teaching, learning, and day-to-day school experiences," staff said.
About half of the money -- $1.2 million -- wilI support the Pleasanton Virtual Academy to satisfy the state's requirement to provide a remote learning option for students and parents during the pandemic.
For on-site learning, COVID testing, PPE materials, and cleaning and disinfection supplies will be covered by $125,000 of ESSER funding, as well as $25,000 for HVAC ventilation and ventilation system upgrades including MERV 13 and HEPA filter purchases. Substitute staffing and support will expend about $50,000 in funding.
Another $466,723 will be spent "to address the academic impact of lost instructional time" during the pandemic, including Saturday School and Extended School Day programs plus support for Emerging Bilingual students and professional development.
The district will also spend $250,000 for one-to-one device distribution support, hot spot distribution, charging stations, software and applications to support learning, and staff to manage device distribution.
As part of their spending plan, PUSD must "ensure its interventions will respond to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of all students, and particularly those students most impacted by the COVID–19 pandemic."
To that end, the district has included in its plan "multiple assessments that will measure the impact of the actions and expenditures in the plan addressing the identified academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of its students, and particularly those students most impacted by the COVID–19 pandemic."
* With the next school board election one year away, the trustees are expected to approve a resolution on Thursday declaring the district's intention to transition from at-large to by-trustee-area elections.
Last month, the board made "a variety of changes and modifications" for the final version of the resolution, "including detail on the timeline and public input in the process" which have since been completed.
Other local agencies including the city of Pleasanton and Dublin San Ramon Service District are also currently in the process of transitioning from at-large elections to by-area elections, which staff said "may provide additional opportunities for candidates from across a jurisdiction to seek election."
Once the resolution is adopted, the district will begin the public input process and start to develop the trustee area boundary map, which "would be used to implement by-trustee area elections beginning in 2022," according to PUSD.