Survey: New Canaan School Parents Want Info through Email, Text and District Websites—Not Social Media


School parents in New Canaan prefer to receive district communications by email or text, rather than social media, and they’re most interested in information on curriculum, assessments and guidance, according to survey results released Monday night.

Board of Education Communications Committee members (L-R): Sangeeta Appel, Sheri West and Jennifer Richardson, following the school board's Nov. 17, 2014 meeting at New Canaan High School's Wagner Room. Credit: Michael Dinan

Board of Education Communications Committee members (L-R): Sangeeta Appel, Sheri West and Jennifer Richardson, following the school board’s Nov. 17, 2014 meeting at New Canaan High School’s Wagner Room. Credit: Michael Dinan

New Canaan Public Schools’ own emails to parents, newsletters and websites rank as primary sources of information, said the majority of respondents to a 10-question online survey that the Board of Education conducted the week of Oct. 13.

In all, 1,101 responses came in to the school board’s Communications Committee after 4,182 parent email invites went out—assuming one respondent per household, the figure represents nearly half of the public school families in New Canaan, Committee Chair Sheri West said at a Board of Education meeting.

“It was very informative for us to learn that 56 percent of our respondents preferred that we not communicate on social media,” West said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School.

Parents feel that “information should be pushed out via email or text” and there exists a “sentiment that social media breeds a culture that is undignified of an administration and the preference that they’d rather hear directly from the BOE in an email format. The implication of this is that it really does validate our focus on traditional communications, which we define as push communications which are email, text and the website.”

Thanking parents for their time and thought in responding to the survey, West called the feedback very helpful and said it would be incorporated into a district website redesign that’s targeted for early next year.

Board of Ed Chair Hazel Hobbs called the 1,000-plus parent participation number “just truly amazing” and said it’s indicative of a high level of concern that parents have for their kids and public schools “and they’d like to have that communication go on.”

Given the high response rate and comments received from parents, board members said they would administer additional surveys to engage the school community and could seek later this month to designate as “standing” the Communications Committee itself.

Parents also “clearly” have “an appetite for more frequent updates” on matters such as curriculum, West said, and future communications from the Board of Ed could come in the forms of text alerts and voice updates as well as direct email updates from the district.

Here are some of the questions and responses spotlighted by the Board of Ed Communications Committee, with responses listed 1, 2, 3 … with ‘1’ being the most popular:

From which sources do you receive most NCPS district information?

  1. Email/School Newsletters
  2. District/School Website
  3. PTC/PFA
  4. Teachers/School Staff
  5. Word of Mouth
  6. Local Media (print/online)

About which topics would you like to hear more from the district?

  1. Curriculum
  2. Assessments
  3. Guidance
  4. Safety and Security
  5. School Climate
  6. Technology
  7. Volunteer Opportunities
  8. Co-Curricular
  9. Health and Wellness
  10. Athletics
  11. Budget Information
  12. VPA
  13. Facilities
  14. Transportation
  15. Special Education

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