East Williston schools should focus on social growth, STEM: survey

The East Williston School District residents want the school to focus on social growth and STEM skills, according to survey results. (Photo courtesy of the East Williston Union Free School District)

Members of the East Williston school district community want the schools to prioritize social emotional growth and STEM skills, according to survey results released by the district on Tuesday.

More than 800 people completed the survey, with parents accounting for 59 percent of survey participants. STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math.

Twenty percent of responders were members of the school staff, 15 percent were 11th- and 12th-grade students, and 6 percent were community members.

The results will help guide the district in creating the next five-year strategic plan, for the 2018-19 school year through the 2022-23 school year.

The district is currently completing the last year of the prior five-year plan.

The strategic plan serves as a blueprint to guide the district in creating and maintaining programs.

The next step is for the Board of Education to vote on a resolution accepting these priorities for the strategic plan, Superintendent Elaine Kanas said in a newsletter.

“Once the priorities are acted upon, the staff will work on translating these priorities into specific goals to be accomplished in each of the five years the plan is in effect,” Kanas said.

The other highest ranking priorities were facilities and security and real world learning.

Parents were given 15 areas to prioritize in the survey.

The survey criteria were put together with input from the community.

In December members of the community gathered to discuss areas they may want prioritized.

At the meeting some parents thought the district did not need to include STEM in the next strategic plan, though the survey results show otherwise.

Wheatley School Principal Sean Feeney and Kanas reminded the public at the time that just because an area isn’t included, that does not mean it is forgotten about.

“Do we have to keep emphasizing that,” Feeney had said on STEM. “Or can we start focusing on other parts that help make a well-rounded student.”

STEM had also been identified in the current strategic plan.

That resulted in the new innovation lab at Willets Road School and Project Lead the Way, a four-year engineering program offered at the Wheatley School.

The dimensions that were deemed lowest priority for the public based on the survey are world languages, expanding elective opportunities, communication and time management, and clubs and extracurricular activities.

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Rebecca Klar

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