Platte County R-3 board hears survey results

The Platte County R-3 Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22 had a large portion of it focused on the facilities and operations strategic plan update.

Jay Harris, executive director of operations, provided insight on survey results taken by students, parents and staff in facilities, food service, safety, security and transportation.

The focus is to have higher numbers in the top level(s) percent that features the answers of strongly agree or agree, while neutral, disagree and strong disagree were also options.

As a whole, the transportation department for the R-3 school district got favorable reviews from parents and students.

 NICOLE DEASON/Citizen photo A Platte County R-3 school bus is shown driving on Fourth Street on Tuesday, Feb. 27. During the most recent Platte County Board of Education meeting, the board heard results of surveys taken by students, parents and staff members. Some of the questions centered around the district’s transportation.

NICOLE DEASON/Citizen photo
A Platte County R-3 school bus is shown driving on Fourth Street on Tuesday, Feb. 27. During the most recent Platte County Board of Education meeting, the board heard results of surveys taken by students, parents and staff members. Some of the questions centered around the district’s transportation.

Students responded favorably when asked if their bus driver cares for them — 90.2 percent from 644 elementary students surveyed and 75.7 percent from 1,017 secondary students. Of the 921 parents that took part in the survey, 73 percent felt the bus driver treated their child with respect.

When asked if the drive gets the students to and from school in a safe manner, 90.9 percent of secondary students — 1,017 took the survey — agreed, while 90.3 of elementary students either agreed or strongly agreed. The parental voting on the subject came in at 83 percent.

When asked if disciplined is handled consistently/effectively on the bus, 62.4 percent fell agreed, but 29 percent were of the 884 responses checked neutral.

Through January, there have been 242 school bus conduct reports — up from 201 at the same point last year, when the final tally was 278.

“We want to pay attention if it trending one way or another,” Harris said. “We have an opportunity to ask more questions in focus groups and get more feedback and the response, overall, is pretty strong.”

In terms of bus riders, the school district is at capacity on between 65 and 75 percent of the regular routes. Some of that is planned due to students that need space with backpacks and band instruments.

The average ride time is 30 minutes or less on the routes, while the longest morning ride time is 55 minutes.

The cost per mile in 2016-17 was $4.64 — up from $4.40 — while the special eduction cost per mile was $6.97 – up from $6.48. The DESE formulation efficiency stood at 114 percent, in line with the past three years. Harris said the number since the district transports every student that wants to ride the bus — something that some districts that don’t do within a certain perimeter of schools. He points out with some schools next to high-traffic areas, that could cause safety hazards.

In terms of food service, 49.9 percent of secondary students responded in either agree or strongly agree that they liked the food served in the cafeteria, while 51 percent of elementary students gave that same response.

“The numbers don’t surprise us, but the information is good for us to know,” Harris said.

When asked if if the cafeteria staff is helpful and friendly, the numbers were in the 70s at both levels — 73 at secondary schools and 74.4 at the elementary level.

Harris noted the district estimates to serve 115,000 breakfast meals and 388,000 lunches, while a la carte items should generate $268,000. If the projects holds, the meals served will surpass numbers from both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.

In facilities, nearly 1,700 secondary students responded and 76.1 said their building is clean and is in good condition, while 83.7 percent of elementary students gave the same response.

Staff — both certified and classified — and parents all had percentages in the 80s.

One of the questions that hits closer to home now following the tragedy in Parkland, Fla., was do you feel safe at school.

A total of 1,742 secondary students answered — up nearly 500 from four years ago — and 82.49 percent agreed or strongly agreed to that query. The number was higher for elementary students with 85.3 saying that.

Platte County’s out of school suspension rate sat at 0.6 percent per 100 students last year — 23 such cases — which is in line with two years ago (21) but much higher than last year (24).

In accident and injury incidents, the number of staff members injured last year was 30 — a mark already matched through January of this year. In 2014-15, the staff injury number was 44.

“Not doing so well on staff,” Harris said. “We see that and we can start to target that strategy we can talk about and make sure we reduce those and maintain those the best we can.”

Student injuries through January sat at 60. The previous three years have seen at least 100 injuries, the lowest was 109 in 2015-16 and that rose to 174 last year.