Dublin survey shows thoughts on schools

Dublin Consolidated School.

Dublin Consolidated School. —FILE PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

By CAMERON CASHMAN

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 06-13-2024 2:17 PM

Asked about the importance of Dublin remaining in the ConVal School District, early respondents to a survey given to parents of Dublin Consolidated School (DCS) and ConVal students about a week ago don’t consider it a high priority.

Just under 22% of answered “not at all important,” and 23% answered “not so important.” “Extremely important” and “very important” were both under 15%. Furthermore, when asked if Dublin should remain in ConVal if the district decided to close DCS – a possibility had a proposed amendment to ConVal’s Articles of Agreement passed in March -- 49% of respondents answered no.

The DEAC has received 47 responses to to the survey, which is intended to gather residents’ thoughts about education, both in town and in the ConVal district as a whole. Additionally, the DEAC will be holding a public forum on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall, where residents will be invited to share their thoughts about education in town and ask questions about the DEAC’s progress.

The DEAC hopes both the survey and the forum will help inform the group’s direction moving forward, as they determine the best and most cost-effective method of educating students in town. DEAC member Blake Anderson noted that the survey results were preliminary and responses were still coming in.

“By and large, as many responses were residents as were parents, reminding us that there are people who relate to these questions both as taxpayers, community members, and so forth,” Anderson said. “Most people, unsurprisingly, have lived in Dublin a long time. About half of the people had kids in the ConVal district, and almost nobody who responded home-schooled. Around 15% were using other schools.”

Early results of the survey indicated that DCS is more popular than the district as a whole. On a scale of one to four, DCS averaged 3.2, while the ConVal district averaged 2.5.

“So there’s significantly more satisfaction with the Dublin School than the ConVal school,” Anderson said.

There were several questions on the survey relating to student preparedness, including individual questions on whether DCS prepares children for South Meadow School, trade school or employment.

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The top answer for all three questions was ‘I don’t know,’” Anderson said.

A question asked about the importance of an elementary school in Dublin, with 49% responding “extremely important,” 23% responding “very important” 13% answering “somewhat important.”

To address what Anderson called outgoing Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders’ assertion that small schools are “detrimental and depriving the kids of social interaction,” one question asked if a small school was beneficial to a child’s development. Affirmative answers were “way over 80%,” Anderson said.

“There were only 6% that thought small schools were not helpful,” he said. “There were a few ‘I don’t knows.’”

Another question asked participants the severity of the impact on Dublin if DCS were to close – 62% answered “severe.” and almost 25% answered “moderate.”

“So an overwhelming amount of people thought there would be a dramatic impact on Dublin,” Anderson said.

Respondents were also asked if Dublin’s per-student cost of around $35,000 sent into ConVal was reasonable, to which 29% answered yes and 71% answered no. Similarly, 76% of respondents felt that Dublin’s school budget of roughly $5 million, compared to the town’s budget of about $2.6 million, was not sustainable. When asked to rate ConVal’s ability to manage its budget and resources, out of four stars, answers averaged out to 1.9.

One of the final questions Anderson reviewed was “Should Dublin consider creating its own school district if that was the only way to keep an elementary school in town?” to which 38% responded yes, 15% responded “probably” and 36% responded “possibly.”

“So all roads are leading back – in this population – that keeping that school open is extremely important to people, and whether it flies a ConVal flag or some other flag seems unimportant to them,” Anderson said.

The DEAC is keeping the survey open. Posters with the QR code are available at various locations, including Town Hall, Dublin Community Center, Dublin General Store, the post off ice and library.