Representatives from the Village Family Service Center in Fargo were at the West Fargo School Board meeting on August 24th to present findings from the district's Employee Engagement Survey conducted last spring. Emphasizing that the 295-page report they brought with them should be studied carefully before drawing conclusions from the data collected by the survey, they shared a general overview with the board and audience members.

  Out of the 945 possible respondents, there was over an 80 percent participation rate. Composed of 41 questions asking district employees whether they agreed or disagreed with each statement, ten categories were ranked with ratings of strong agreement ranging between 75 percent and up; moderate agreement ranging between 60 to 70 percent; and slight agreement averaging between 50 to 60 percent. Communication and leadership received the lowest ratings, while working conditions and immediate supervisors received the strongest or most favorable rankings

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  The findings indicated that when employees were divided into groups with increments of five years of employment, the levels of disagreement were spread over all groups fairly evenly, with the exception of new teachers, who rated questions at higher ratings. Summers said that when results were broken down by job titles, teachers and counselors ranked in a higher dissatisfaction range than administrators or other employee groups. By location, disagreement levels were spread evenly throughout all schools in the district.

After hearing the summary explanation of the survey results, Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace told board members that in order to get the most out of the survey results, they should look at the questions the district did poorly on, but at the same time, look at areas that they did well in, too, and come to some shared understanding about information in the report in the spirit of continued improvement.

Administrators and school board members will be given the chance to look at copies of the Village's survey report first, before passing the information on to staff. Summers indicated that once things are set up, a copy of the report will be available online in pdf format.

In board action, the board authorized the transportation manager to apply for a grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to replace two diesel buses with new diesel fueled buses for better fuel efficiency. Business manager Joe Sykora compared the program to the "Cash for Clunkers" program now winding down in the auto industry.

If the stimulus-funded grant is approved, West Fargo would be able to receive up to $80,000 toward the purchase of two buses to replace buses in the district's existing fleet. The cost of replacing two buses in West Fargo's fleet had already been approved in the budget for the 2010-2011 school year, so the stimulus money would act as a way to offset the cost for the buses.

The board also approved a plan to implement the continuation of the GraSUS project in collaboration with the NDSU Center for Science and Mathematics for the 2009-2010 school year. West Fargo schools will commit to providing $25,400 to allow one graduate fellow and two undergraduate students from NDSU to work with three West Fargo teachers to give students added opportunities to learn through shared ideas and resources. The funds for the program would come out of available stimulus money.

The board also agreed to accept an application for a continued coop agreement with Central Cass High School for boy's hockey, and approved an extended leave request for a Phy. Ed. Teacher at the Lodoen Education Center.

The next school board meeting will be held on September 14, at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center, with a Committee of the Whole meeting at 5:30 p.m., and the regular board meeting beginning at 6 p.m.