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Fri., Oct. 9
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Majority of survey respondents rate schools as ‘good’


CANTON — The majority of participants in a school survey conducted by state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie said they believe their school system is offering a “good” quality education, but they are concerned about bullying and Common Core testing.

Also, 84 percent of respondents would support a high school diploma option that focuses on vocational training.

“With input on everything from school safety to curriculum, the feedback I received through this survey will truly be invaluable as I continue to advocate for local education,” Ms. Ritchie said in an emailed statement.

The results represent the responses of 2,083 people who took an online or mail-in survey conducted by Ms. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, to gather public opinion and ideas for use in the next legislative session.

Mrs. Ritchie’s Assembly district includes several school districts in St. Lawrence, Oswego and Jefferson counties.

The survey was conducted during July and August and asked respondents 11 questions.

According to the results, 19 percent of respondents rate the quality of their school’s education as “excellent,” 64 percent chose “good,” 13 percent said “fair” and 3 percent said “poor.”

Ms. Ritchie also sponsored legislation that changes state aid formulas to better reflect the needs of rural districts. The bipartisan bill recognizes the impact that industrial decline has had on the tax base of local communities and seeks to spread education costs across the state more fairly.

Some of the other survey findings:

n 74 percent have concerns about Common Core, new standards to establish benchmarks for education, and their impact on learning, while 54 percent think standards for teachers are stringent enough.

n 73 percent think more needs to be done to recognize great teachers.

n 81 percent oppose providing additional aid increases to better-performing schools.

n 72 percent think their schools are safe, while 57 percent say disciplinary issues and issues such as bullying are a growing problem. Last month a measure took effect that’s designed to protect students from cyberbullying by requiring schools to work with parents and law enforcement to respond forcefully when bullying occurs.

n 79 percent are against arming teachers with guns, which is a proposal by one national anti-crime group.

n 56 percent think the tax cap is helping to hold down property taxes. In 2013, more than 90 percent of school districts kept taxes below the cap.

n On the question of how to spend increased state aid, 41 percent of respondents said aid should be directed into basic classes and services, 21 percent for local property tax relief, 16 percent to reverse cuts to sports and extracurricular programs, 10 percent to improve school safety, 6 percent for classroom technology and 4 percent for merit pay for high-performing teachers.

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