Through the District Advisory Council, a community stakeholder group the school district uses to help guide its action by obtaining feedback, Eastern Regional is currently in the midst of identifying goals that it hopes to achieve over the next half-decade.
Superintendent Robert Cloutier knows that feedback and responses from various perspectives — students, faculty and staff and equally as important, the community — will help best develop the clearest and most informative five-year plan.
“Communication and mechanisms for feedback is a crucial aspect of a five-year plan,” Cloutier said. “So going into this year, the thought was how do we use surveys each year … and let’s pick a different survey each year that focuses on different aspects of the school that the community would like to see improved.”
Having already conducted focus groups and surveys for teachers, as well as having selected a survey for students to take on Friday, March 6 during physical education and health classes, the district is now preparing to roll out a survey pertaining to the effectiveness of the district’s communication with parents, school staff and community members, regardless of if they have children in the district.
According to Cloutier, the community survey will go live Monday, March 16 and be open for three weeks to community members. If needed, the district is hosting an open session Wednesday, March 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Susan M. Gongol Learning Center for those looking for access to a computer or help in completing the survey.
Following the completion period of the community survey, the district will allow Manager of Communications Lori Perlow with the Camden County Educational Services Commission to run independent focus groups with volunteering respondents to gain more specific information regarding communication methods.
Cloutier says the district has greatly increased its communication methods with the community in recent years, from a revamped website to a direct message system and an ECCRSD app and more.
The survey itself, Cloutier says, will inquire about what types of information residents would like to receive, such as grade reports, school events, and more, as well as over what mediums would be best and how often the school district should push such information out.
“It’s a very wide-ranging survey,” Cloutier says. “It gets at different aspects of communication. We want to see, now that we have these different tools, what do people think about them and how should we utilize them moving forward, as well as what area can we improve in overall.”
Ideally, the district is seeking to find a balance between too little and too much communication. Cloutier recognizes that not all residents view communication from their school district at the same level, either wanting more or less notifications than will ultimately be decided.
However, overall the district is constantly reviewing its communication methods.
“Pretty much after any event, you can always come back to how could communication have been improved,” Cloutier said. “Where were there chances to be proactive that we missed, or maybe there was communication that we put out there that wasn’t helpful at that specific moment.”
In collecting information and feedback obtained through the three-week community survey process, Cloutier says the information will help the District Advisory Council in the continued development of Eastern’s five-year strategic plan in April. Cloutier says the district plans to utilize surveys every year, focusing on specific categories on potential improvement each year.
“This is all the part of the process of hearing from our stakeholders,” Cloutier said.