By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
President Stephanie Erwin says the Quincy School Board will likely hold a special meeting in early November to review the results of a community survey and decide on some possible options for what to do about the district's aging schools.
Erwin said a date for the meeting will be determined within the next few days.
She said now that a building assessment and a community survey have been conducted, she is determined to keep the conversation going in hopes of addressing some of the concerns about structural issues with Quincy schools and the alignment of grades.
"I don't want to sit on this. We've gone too far at this point," Erwin said. "The seven of us now have to take this information and decide what is our structure going to be and what do we want to see moving forward based on the input that we've gotten."
Joel Murphy, the district's business manager, presented partial results from the community survey at Wednesday night's School Board meeting. The 26-question survey will remain online through this coming Friday. Community members can fill it out by going to the district's website — www.qps.org. Paper copies also can be filled out at the Board of Education headquarters, 1416 Maine.
According to Murphy, 298 people had filled out the survey by noon Wednesday. Of those, 31 percent indicated they "support" and 63 percent "strongly support" moving to a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade configuration in Quincy schools.
Currently, the district has seven elementary schools serving grades K-3, Baldwin Intermediate School serving grades 4-6, Quincy Junior High School serving grades 7-9 and Quincy High School serving grades 10-12.
The survey showed 64 percent "do not support" the current system.
Most of the people surveyed gave low grades when assessing the condition of Quincy's current school buildings. According to Murphy, 44.3 percent gave the district's buildings a grade of "C," while 34.6 percent gave the buildings either a "D" or "F."
According to the survey, 72.6 percent feel it's "important" or "very important" to have neighborhood schools, but nearly half of those responding — 46.9 percent — felt it's "not important" to preserve older facilities for the sake of historic preservation.
Most of those surveyed also said they feel it's important for technology to be integrated into schools, especially at Quincy High School and Quincy Junior High School. But the respondents felt there was less urgency to have technology in schools for younger students.
Murphy's report showed 56.7 percent of the survey respondents have school-aged children living in the district. Of those, 90.1 percent of the children attend Quincy School District schools.
The survey was triggered by a facilities assessment conducted by the district. The assessment showed most of the district's elementary buildings are "borderline" at best when it comes to their condition.
As part of the district's efforts to gain community input about the condition of Quincy's schools and the configuration of grades, the School Board hosted a series of public forums last week. More forums will be scheduled in mid-November once school officials develop some options based on the upcoming discussions with board members.
Erwin said she was not surprised to see strong public sentiment in support of a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade alignment.
"I think this is a popular choice amongst the board, too, but I know other people have considerations," she said.
Once the district's staff develops a series of options on how to proceed — including what those options would cost — the next step, Erwin said, would be to decide: "How do we fund it?"
She said the district will be exploring the possibility of asking voters to approve a property tax issue or one-cent sales tax dedicated for school facilities.
The board would have to make a decision by December in order to get a tax issue placed on the ballot in March — the earliest date for any kind of tax issue could be placed before voters.