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Prince William Teachers Stress Concerns About Survey to Assess Lengthening of Workday

| February 25, 2016 | 0 Comments | Education
Potomac District School Board Representative Justin Wilk. Photo Courtesy of Prince William County Schools

Potomac District School Board Representative Justin Wilk. Photo Courtesy of Prince William County Schools

Prince William teachers have stressed multiple concerns regarding a PWCS survey to discover how teachers are using 30 minutes of contract time added by the school division four years ago.

At the Jan. 6 meeting of the School Board, Potomac representative Justin Wilk announced his displeasure with the 2012 board decision to lengthen the teacher workday. The superintendent’s staff were directed to create a survey to assess what teachers thought of the extra time and how they were using it.

On Feb. 19, Wilk discovered that the surveys had been administered to teachers without the benefit of school board input.

“During the previous discussion regarding the anonymity of the actual survey and its development, I asked administration to provide the board with the draft of the survey before sending it out to staff. Unfortunately, I am not aware of a single board member receiving this survey before it was sent to staff last week,” Wilk said. “I am hearing numerous complaints from staff members regarding the actual anonymity of the survey, the question order and the various ways things are phrased in the survey content; speaking for myself, I am truly frustrated that my request was ignored by district administration.”

School Board Chairman At-large Ryan Sawyers confirmed that he did not see the survey in advance of its publication. Like Wilk, Sawyers received numerous complaints from employees and residents about the survey.

Jim Livingston, president of the Prince William Education Association, shared his concern for the survey.

“I can tell you it’s poorly constructed. The directions are lengthy. The survey requires participants to make their responses add up to specific amounts of time,” Livingston said. “Our concern is people will become frustrated and not complete the survey.”

Furthermore, those who had neither seen nor read about the board meeting were unaware of the reason for the survey and some found it disconcerting that they were only asked about their contracted time.

“The survey makes no provision for participants to share the amount of time spent on school work outside of contract time,” Livingston said. “Members are telling us their contract time is increasingly encumbered; therefore, requiring more and more personal time devoted to work responsibilities.”

Gainesville School Board Representative Alyson Satterwhite suggested the teacher survey at the Jan. 6 meeting. She further suggested school board members participate in its creation.

“The school board members would be happy to help with questions for this survey. You know we are always happy to add information,” Satterwhite said. “We want to take some time on this. We don’t want to act too hastily on this if we are going to look at this. We do need to look at this carefully, and we do need the input.”

Concerns about the confidentiality of the survey may stem from other issues PWCS has had with teacher surveys.

At the Feb. 17 School Board meeting, various members used their time to discuss incidents in which teachers felt intimidated by their administrators. Coles representative Willie Deutsch shared allegations that one PWCS administrator coerced teachers into changing answers on a survey that was intended to be anonymous.

Wilk said at the same meeting that he was determined to usher in an era of transparency and accountability at PWCS.

© 2016, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Education

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