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Salem superintendent: We need to improve communication

SALEM — Most of the people who responded to a recent community survey sent out by the school district are satisfied with the job the district is doing.

Superintendent Michael Delahanty said, however, the district needs to do a better job communicating with those who do not have students in the district.

The district sent out 6,000 surveys to random Salem residents last fall. About 400 people responded to the surveys, according to Delahanty.

The information garnered from those surveys is being used to help craft a public relations and communication plan for the school system.

“The highest percentage of individuals are satisfied with the district, but overall, you can see that there is a significant percentage, 27 percent, who have no opinion one way or the other about their satisfaction with the Salem School District,” said Delahanty. “That is disappointing to me. I would rather have people with a higher degree of satisfaction with the school district than is shown in the survey.”

The highest percentage of those who had no opinion were from residents who don’t have children in the district.

“It’s evident that people with no children in the schools really don’t feel that they have a connection to the school district,” Delahanty said. “We have to address that and figure out how to communicate better.”

A number of the surveys also included written comments from people expressing their concerns with the schools and the district.

“The category with the most responses had to do with the disappointment in the high school as a facility and the dire need to address this facility,” said Delahanty. A $75 million high school renovation project is scheduled to go before voters in March.

There were also a number of responses expressing concerns about how information from the schools makes its way home to parents, said School Board member Pamela Berry.

“It’s an age-old problem,” she said. “It just reinforces the things we’ve talked about.”

Delahanty said a communications committee will continue to look at results from the survey as it creates a public relations and communications plan for the district.

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