Shakopee High School passing time

This summer, 422 random registered voters in Shakopee participated in a survey to offer feedback for Shakopee Public Schools. The participants were asked to grade the district, offer opinions on the district’s biggest challenges, measure the performance of district leadership and the school board, among other requests.

Kelly Smith, who presented the survey findings at the Monday school board work session on behalf of Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors, said responses related to overall quality of education and teaching staff were strong. He also said ratings for the district’s financial management and the school board’s performance were significantly lower than the norm.

Here were some of the numbers:

Overall performance

Thirteen percent of respondents gave the overall operation of the district an A grade, while 44% gave the district a B grade. Eleven percent of participants gave Shakopee Public Schools a D and F grade. Compared with the national benchmark, Shakopee showed a higher percentage of A and B grades and a lower percentage of C and D grades.

Financial management

Twenty-one percent of participants gave A and B grades for the district’s financial management, while 39% gave D and F grades. But 35 percent of participants said their opinion on the district’s financial management was improving. The grades come in the wake of former Superintendent Rod Thompson’s leadership. Thompson, now in a Duluth prison, embezzled $30,000 in district money. Under his leadership, the district’s fund balance shrank from $12 million to $700,000 from 2013 to 2017.

In a statement provided by Superintendent Mike Redmond in a press release, he said, “Our district has made several changes to increase oversight and improve the financial direction of our district.” He also notes the district’s fund balance is on its way back up, with $3.5 million in reserves projected for this year.

Superintendent

Forty-one percent of participants gave A and B grades to the performance of Redmond, 4% gave D and F grades and 43% could not offer an opinion. At the time of the survey, newly-hired Redmond was about six months into his tenure.

School board

Twenty-nine percent of respondents gave the school board’s performance A and B grades, while 25% gave D and F grades. A quarter of the participants said their opinion on the board was improving, while half said their opinion wasn’t changing.

Teachers

Seventy-six percent of participants said they trust Shakopee’s educators, while 12% did not. The other 12% said they could not answer. About a quarter of respondents said Shakopee’s teachers are better than neighboring districts, and 44% said teachers are comparable to neighboring districts.

The survey will be conducted again in 2020 and 2021, and then every two to three years thereafter.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.

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