This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
UW-Eau Claire Surveys Eau Claire
Residents About Local Schools
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900
web http://www.uwec.edu
e-mail newsbur@uwec.edu

MAILED: Nov. 2, 1998

EAU CLAIRE — A majority of Eau Claire voters support building a new school to replace Boyd and Park elementary schools, want to see the heating, plumbing and air conditioning systems at North and Memorial high schools upgraded, and think Eau Claire schools should offer all-day kindergarten.
They also support building an addition to Putnam Heights Elementary School and upgrading the athletic facilities at North High School. And they support upgrading technology in all schools, renovating the old gymnasium at Little Red Elementary School into a media center and computer lab (and building a new gymnasium), and giving technology a high priority in the school budget.
But those same voters are less excited about building an additional gymnasium at DeLong Middle School or purchasing land for a third high school. And they aren't crazy about the idea of building a new school to replace Cleghorn School.
That, in a nutshell, is what two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students and a mathematics faculty member found in an independent research project designed to help the Eau Claire School Board better understand the community's interests in relation to public education here. The three will share their findings with the school board during its Nov. 2 meeting.
UW-Eau Claire students David Staab and Molly White, along with assistant professor of mathematics Marc Goulet, will report to the board the results of a telephone survey they conducted in May. As part of that survey, the students randomly selected 500 people from the list of the 30,514 residents of the Eau Claire School District who were registered to vote in the 1996 presidential election. Of the 500 people, 133 responses were secured. Based on the number of responses, researchers can say with 95 percent confidence that the margin of error is plus or minus 8.5 percentage points.
"The 25 percent response rate is typical of a phone survey no matter what the issue," Goulet said. "A lot of people would rather not be bothered by a phone call any time of the day or night regardless of the issue. So while we had hoped to get more responses, we got about what we should have expected."
The survey was designed to solicit feedback about voters' attitudes regarding individual items included in the school district's failed October 1997 referendum, Goulet said. Survey designers decided to ask whether voters supported specific issues without attaching price tags to them, he said.
"We wanted to get their opinions on issues rather than their opinions on spending a certain amount of money on a particular issue," Goulet said. "We left dollar amounts out because we thought it might introduce bias into the survey."
The survey designers focused on items in three categories: proposed construction projects, proposed renovations and improvements at individual schools, and changes in programs or priorities. Goulet said decisions were made as to what to include in the survey after researchers read the referendum and the fact sheet that accompanied it, and talked with representatives of the school board and superintendent's office.
Construction projects and the percentage of respondents who strongly or somewhat agreed with each proposal were:
    *
  • Build a new school to replace Boyd and Park elementary schools — 74.4 percent.
  • *
  • Build an addition to Putnam Heights — 60.1 percent.
  • *
  • Build a new school to replace Cleghorn — 48.9 percent.
  • *
  • Build an additional gymnasium at DeLong — 44.4 percent.
  • *
  • Purchase land for a third high school — 36.1 percent.
  • Renovation and improvement projects and the percentage of respondents who strongly or somewhat agreed with each proposal were: *
  • Upgrade the heating, plumbing and air conditioning systems at North and Memorial high schools — 82.7 percent.
  • *
  • Upgrade current technology in all public schools — 66.9 percent.
  • *
  • Upgrade athletic facilities at North — 62.4 percent.
  • *
  • Renovate the Little Red gymnasium into a media center and computer lab — 53.4 percent.
  • Program or priority changes and the percentage of respondents who strongly or somewhat agreed with each proposal were: *
  • All-day kindergarten should be offered in the district — 68.4 percent.
  • *
  • Technology should receive a high priority in the school budget — 66.2 percent.
  • Staab is a sophomore geology major from Marshfield, and White is a junior mathematics major from Cuba City. The survey was done as part of a research project undertaken by Staab as part of his requirements for having received the 1998 Zivnuska Scholarship, offered by the department of mathematics.
    The scholarship was created by UW-Eau Claire alumnus Phil Zivnuska, who stipulated the winner of the $500 scholarship had to participate in a collaborative research project with a faculty member.
    "The idea is to engage a student relatively early in his or her career in mathematical research," Goulet said. "David (Staab) and I proposed this project because the need was clearly there. The referendum had failed, and the school board, superintendent and community members were all trying to figure out what people are really interested in in relation to the school district. And it's a way for the math department to contribute to the community."
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    JB


    UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

    Janice B. Wisner
    UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
    Schofield 218
    (715) 836-4741
    newsbur@uwec.edu

    Updated: Nov. 2, 1998

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