Orleans Parish School Board Reveals Preliminary Results Survey

May 26, 2017


Findings on School Quality and School Choice Addressed at May Board Working Session, School Board’s Role in Unification Plan Defined

New Orleans – (May 25, 2017) – In keeping with their vision and strategic goal setting timeline the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) held an open working session on Thursday, May 25. The meeting served several purposes, which included:

  • a review and discussion of the preliminary results from the OPSB citywide survey
  • approval for the next steps in sharing community input and continuing the Board’s vision and strategy planning process
  • provide an introductory overview of the multi-year organizational and financial plan

Citywide Survey Results

As OPSB looks to enhance New Orleans public schools, it encouraged community members to participate in a citywide survey to hear their thoughts on public education and gain an understanding of what the public wants to see in the future from OPSB, its schools, staff and students. The survey closed on May 5 and was open to every New Orleans resident ages 18 and older. All responses were anonymous. In total, 3,800 residents completed the survey either online or through paper surveys.

Initial results highlight three broad challenges for OPSB, which include the availability of high quality school options, the need to define appropriate expectations for schools and access to diverse schools.

The largest group of respondents, roughly 47 percent, were parents of children who attend a New Orleans public school. 11 percent were parents of non-public school children. The vast majority of respondents, roughly 40 percent, have lived in New Orleans for more than 31 years with 37 percent of total respondents reporting incomes under $50,000 a year. Survey participants were largely African American (61 percent).

On broad measures of satisfaction, about three quarters of parent respondents stated they are pleased with their child’s school today. Progress made since Katrina was the point of pride most often cited by community members. Other top points of pride from respondents include New Orleans’ school buildings and facilities and the variety of schools available to families.

The survey found that satisfaction with available school choices varied between 55 and 65 percent in different areas of the city. Community members voiced support for both school choice and stronger neighborhood schools and results show that they do not see a contradiction in these values.

OPSB also found that the survey revealed challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed. Many, especially low-income families, stated they continue to seek more quality of school options.

Additionally, survey results found that the community wants to ensure that schools are preparing students for their future and focusing on a broad set of skills and capabilities. Chief among those skill sets outlined were reading and comprehension, communication, problem solving and math. Creativity, skills for the workplace, financial literacy, character skills, civics, foreign languages and time management all ranked above 15 percent in respondents’ list of important skills for students to obtain prior to graduation.

The community survey also revealed a desire for schools that are more socio-economically and racially diverse with 82 percent of respondents believing that it is important to create access to diverse public schools. Further, 78 percent of respondents believe that it is important to ensure that public school enrollment is representative of the demographics of the city.

OPSB will dive further into the survey questions with focus groups and town hall meetings that will take place over the summer. The School Board plans to share additional findings and action items from those meetings in early October.

For more information and full survey results, visit the Citywide Survey page.

OPSB’s Role in a Unified District

The board also received an overview of the OPSB multi-year organizational and financial plan at Thursday’s meeting. In it OPSB staff shared a summation of what families and community members can expect from OPSB as it moves towards unification on July 1, 2018.

In the new and unique public school system, the School Board outlined five areas in which the new district will operate. They include:

  • Providing school oversight and planning as the regulator of schools
  • Ensuring families and the community have a voice in public education
  • Addressing how students and families enroll in schools and are supported with access to services
  • Overseeing the maintenance and preservation of school facilities
  • The financial administration for all schools

Board Update on Financial Structure under Unification

With regards to finances, the School Board shared progress made on the multi-year budgeting process and emphasized its commitment to satisfy their pledge in the Unification Plan to demonstrate fiscal sustainability as a part of the unification process. Those commitments include a plan to reduce the operating deficit by approximately 75 percent over the next three years.

The next OPSB Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, June 15.

OPSB currently oversees 32 schools, including 25 charter schools, six network schools and one educational program for students in secure care facilities.

For more information, visit www.opsb.us and OPSB Facebook and Twitter (@_OPSB) pages. Materials for today’s meeting can be found on OPSB’s BoardDocs portal here.

May Board Working Session.Final
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