Andrew School Committee Releases Survey Results

Andrew School Committee Releases Survey Results

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

Members of the Andrew School Committee came together on Aug. 10 to discuss the results of a recent community survey they conducted.

Eight community members attended the meeting that was held in the multi-purpose room at the Village of Andrew administration building.

Committee member Chris Lupul spoke about the committee’s decision to switch its focus from trying to get a reversal of Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) board of trustees decision to close the junior high program, and instead to try and preserve the elementary school, because the committee feels that we are in jeopardy of losing our school in Andrew just based on numbers and figures.

Lupul went on to say the closure of the junior high program is a moot point and the bigger question is how do they stop more damage from being done. “That’s why we went to the community survey, to see what the general population around Andrew wanted to see, and we got some pretty good results from the survey, and everyone is in agreeance that we should try and save what’s left of the school and then get different programming in and try to get the junior high back. Right now the numbers don’t justify that.”

Committee member Stan Zabrick agreed, and said it was time to apply triage, to get in front of it and work with EIPS. “If we don’t salvage the elementary then we can’t worry about a school we’ve already lost.”

Zabrick said the purpose of the survey was to gauge the awareness of the situation in the community, get the pulse of the community, and see if people really care enough about saving the school. Zabrick said he was surprised by the amount of participation in the survey. Results of the survey were shared with those in attendance by committee chairperson Jodie Calfat.

Calfat expressed both relief and excitement in seeing the results, “We do have a pulse in the community. The numbers along with actual comments are very telling so it really helps inform our work.”

The survey, which ran from July 26 to August 10, was available as a Survey Monkey link on their Facebook page and produced a total of 122 responses. The survey was also available in hard copy with 22 returns as of August 10.

A total of ten questions comprised the survey with the opportunity to respond on a six-point scale from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. Respondents also had the opportunity to provide written comments. A high-level summary of the survey results are provided here, the full results can be found at the Andrew School Committee Facebook page.

On the question of, It matters to me/my family whether Andrew continues to have a public school, 82 percent strongly agreed with an additional 9 percent choosing agree.

Ninety-one percent of respondents either somewhat agreed, agreed, or strongly agreed they had a satisfactory level of information to form valid opinions.

The next two questions centered on whether the Andrew School can and should be saved. Overwhelmingly, the responses were strongly agree and agree.

When asked about satisfaction for alternatives in the event the school is permanently closed, 45 percent responded with strongly disagree with another 30 percent making up somewhat disagree and disagree.

When asked about their willingness to help these efforts in saving the school, 85 percent of respondents either somewhat agreed, agreed or strongly agreed.

There were still concerns raised about the low number of parents who have been attending the committee meetings, but members felt that once school started, there would be more active participation on the part of parents.

Rick Ostashek, who was in attendance with his wife, have had both of their children graduate from Andrew School. He said they would love nothing more than for their daughter to Cassandra, who has a bachelor’s degree in science and is currently working towards a degree in education, to return home to Andrew to teach school. But, he pointed out there not only has to be a school to come home to, but a school where there is some job security for teachers to encourage them to want to live in the community.

There were a few comments that the village is not doing anything to promote itself and attract families to live in Andrew. Terry Levicki said there has been no capital investment in the local area for years despite the fact Lamont County collects $5 million in tax revenue annually from area residents.

Levicki spoke about his plan, a plan that he introduced to Lamont County councillors and administration during a planning session four years ago. His plan would see the development of a man-made lake with sandy beach, large park area with a hill, ball diamonds, and campground to give people a reason to camp and enjoy spending time in the park and all it has to offer.

Levicki went on to say,  He’d like to have year-round activities in the park, and said there are several acres of land that could be developed west of the village’s community centre to accommodate his plan. He felt it was a matter of “dangling carrots” and getting the county to invest capital into the project. “When families see what we have to offer the possibilities are endless.”