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Schools please residents
Spotsylvania County Public Schools score well on quality-of-life survey by Virginia Tech


Date published: 4/13/2005

By BILL FREEHLING

Spotsylvania's public school district got good marks on a report card delivered this week by the Virginia Tech Center for Survey Research.

About 68 percent of survey respondents said education in the district has improved in recent years, and about 88 percent said the latest schools built have been of high quality.

The findings were part of the Quality of Life in Virginia survey, conducted by telephone earlier this year.

Research center co-director Susan Willis-Walton presented the results to the Spotsylvania School Board on Monday night.

She said about 90 percent of the 450 randomly chosen respondents thought school funding should go up and district teachers should be competitively paid.

But just about two-thirds of the survey-takers agreed that taxes should go up to support the higher expenses.

Willis-Walton said that's a common phenomenon, but said Spotsylvanians are more willing to have taxes raised than most districts surveyed.

Virginia Tech has done the survey for 14 years. Spotsylvania Superintendent Jerry Hill asked researchers this year to ask Spotsylvanians questions specific to its schools. Hill said he helped develop the questions and tried to keep them straightforward.

Spotsylvania spent about $8,500 on the survey, said schools spokeswoman Sara Branner.

The phone surveys lasted about 20 minutes. More women than men agreed to participate, so male responses were weighted more heavily in calculating results. The margin of error was about 2.5 percent. About half the respondents have a child in the Spotsylvania school district.

These were the second survey results released in Spotsylvania this year. The Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia did a telephone poll this winter that surveyed 843 Spotsylvanians.

That survey found that 81 percent of respondents think the county provides efficient and effective educational services.

Hill said he is pleased with the results of both surveys.

"It makes me very confident that the citizens of Spotsylvania County place a high value on public education," Hill said Monday night.

To reach BILL FREEHLING: 540/374-5424 bfreehling@freelancestar.com