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Community surveys - not just for referendums!

There’s no better way to find out how your residents feel about you, your school, and your community than a community survey. But they’re also a highly effective way to determine what your residents feel about supporting a plan you’d like to explore moving forward with. We’ve read many survey comments, and one thing is always clear: people want to be in the know, especially when you’re planning on spending money!

Our two most common community surveys are referendum surveys and planning surveys.

The two have many things in common, most notably that they ask for the community’s feedback, but there are a few distinct differences.

Planning surveys are great check-in surveys. As you know, we specialize in parent, staff, and student surveys to see how those groups are doing. But there are certainly times you need to include all members of the community, not just those who are part of the school. That’s what a planning survey is for! Like referendum surveys, our planning surveys are mailed to each household, as well as emailed to your parents and staff. That way, everyone in the community has the opportunity to give their feedback.

The main question in a planning survey is, “How are we doing?” For instance, does your district…

  • Communicate with me effectively?

  • Maintain a safe and secure campus?

  • Prepare students for potential careers and education after high school?

  • Have high expectations for students?

  • Effectively partner with local businesses and community members?

Many districts also choose to ask what advice folks have for their district, where planning efforts should be focused, and what skills the community believes students must have before they graduate.

(By the way, if you don't know how your community would answer these questions, you're not ready for a referendum. Period.)

The number of these planning surveys we’ve deployed is skyrocketing, especially post-COVID, so your results can be compared to other schools asking the same questions. And, if you’re thinking about looking into building or expanding, you can begin to collect the community’s initial reactions or start to explain what, exactly, it is you’re looking to do.

But, if you’re more seriously thinking about a referendum, a referendum community survey might be ready for you. We’ve talked before about referendum surveys, which are surveys in preparation for asking about a referendum on a ballot. These surveys go out once you have a plan in place for improvements/updates/additions you’d like to make, and you have a game plan for how you’d like to make that vision possible. Referendum surveys also gather information on your operational or levy needs as well – both are common for us!

The purpose of a referendum survey is, first and foremost, to communicate what the needs of your school are and to see if the community would support a referendum of any size to address those needs. You can also ask how the community is feeling about your school with a referendum survey, much like a planning survey.

Both of these surveys are great ways to find out how your community feels about your school district or where they need more information. If you’re interested in getting started on a community survey, get in touch with your project manager to start drafting!


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Lindsey Naze, Data Analyst.


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