Our schools belong to our community. In Eastern Carver County Schools, we take that responsibility seriously, and our staff work hard every day to provide the quality of education our residents expect and our students deserve.

One way we keep in touch with our community is by listening. We recently conducted a scientific, random-sample phone survey of our residents, something we do every year or two to monitor trends, identify issues and look ahead at new ideas.

A few highlights of what respondents told us in this survey:

  • 91 percent believe the quality of education we provide is excellent or good. This is in line with similar high ratings we’ve received over the last several years. Our parents rate us even higher — with 98 percent giving us a rating of excellent or good.
  • The “most-liked” parts of our school district are: good teachers, variety of programs and excellent academics.
  • While the highest rated “most serious issue” facing the district was “nothing,” large class sizes were viewed as most serious by 16 percent of respondents.
  • 87 percent believe our technology opportunities for students are excellent or good.
  • While only 35 percent have been following the facilities planning discussions we’ve been leading over the last several months, the vast majority know our district is growing and nearly half of those believe our schools do not have enough room to accommodate that growth.
  • The most effective communication methods for sharing school district news are a mailed newsletter, the local newspaper, email and the district website.

This information and more will help inform our School Board as they assess what level of financial support we will need to provide the programs, academics and facilities as part of our educational program while we grow. You can learn more about our enrollment growth and funding needs at www.district112.org/needs.

Surveys are just one way we engage with our community. We also hold listening sessions, we have public forum opportunities at School Board meetings and we host focus groups, among other things. These all provide opportunities for us to hear what is working and where we can improve.

Throughout this year we have been engaging in discussions about equity and diversity in our schools. We’ve worked in earnest to develop and execute equity plans at each school with a focus on academic achievement and the social success of students. This work focuses on removing barriers — day-to-day and institutional — to meet the needs of all students regardless of their backgrounds. Equity is ensuring equal access to educational opportunities. You can learn more about our equity work at www.district112.org/equity.

Engagement and dialogue are critical to ensure that equity in our schools is more than just a concept. We are currently in the process of engaging in over 50 feedback sessions to gather input from students, parents, staff and community members on a districtwide equity vision and framework that will serve as a guide for all employees and learners. Join us for a Community Conversation focused on equity, diversity and inclusion on Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8 p.m., at Clover Ridge Elementary.

As a district, we still have a lot of work to do in our journey to be more equitable and inclusive. We are committed to this work and believe that it will make us a better school district — a district that has a deeper respect, understanding and appreciation for diversity, and a district that embraces and fosters inclusion.

Every day we have the opportunity to work with, guide, learn from, and listen to our amazing students. I’m constantly blown away by their maturity and intelligence. I’m convinced that we do our jobs better when we have a deep understanding of the needs of our students.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit a school recently, please contact one of ours. You, too, will be amazed by our students, as well as our staff. Our schools are here to serve our community. Thank you for supporting us as we do our best to educate the leaders, workers and contributors of tomorrow.

Clint Christopher is superintendent of Eastern Carver County Schools.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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