As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I also find myself hitting an important milestone in my first year on the job. Thank you for your welcoming spirit, support, and encouragement during my first 100+ days as your Superintendent! I am grateful for each connection and conversation I have had with students, staff, families, and community members as I listen and learn about what is most important to our District 67 and District 115 communities.
A significant part of these early months has been focused on gathering qualitative feedback. Learning about the Lake Forest experience is critical to understanding what we are doing well and strategizing on initiatives for continued improvement. To date, I have met with more than 80 faculty and staff members and dozens of District and community groups. This input, gathered through one-on-one and small group conversations, has been immensely helpful and insightful.
It is also important for us to gather quantitative feedback and our recent Community Satisfaction Survey did just that. This study, conducted by professional polling firm Fallon Research, engaged a randomly-selected sample of our community including District parents/guardians and those residents who do not have students in our schools. These results (found here) allow us to better understand where we are today and what the community at large sees as priorities for District 67 and District 115 moving forward.
Here are highlights of what we found in our September 2021 Community Satisfaction Survey:
- 76% of our community believes our public schools offer an excellent or good education to our students,
- A majority, 55%, think the quality of education is consistent across all school buildings,
- 66% of those surveyed agree that even though the Lake Forest High School building is well-maintained, it is important to modernize the facilities and infrastructure to ensure students are getting an advanced education,
- And 49% of respondents rated the schools as excellent or good at meeting the needs of students from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
- 51% of our community believes property owners receive a good value from the schools for the money they pay in taxes,
- However, only 41% rate the job of the School Districts at spending tax money and managing finances as excellent or good, while another 25% rate the Districts' job at doing so as fair.
- Overall, 61% of the community understands how Districts 67 and 115 have consolidated shared services to save money and 66% are satisfied with the arrangement.
Through all of these efforts, I have seen again and again that Lake Forest School Districts 67 and 115 are home to excellent schools – but we still have work to do. We must continue to build trust among all stakeholders in our community, foster innovation that creates new educational opportunities for our students and staff, and join together to update our vision with a focus on developing future-ready graduates.
As I look ahead to my next 100 days and beyond, I commit to sharing more with you about our successes as well as our opportunities for improvement. I will also communicate with you about our processes for managing each dollar thoughtfully and with a focus on the classroom – where it matters most.
Partners with a Common Purpose
I look forward to continuing to get better acquainted with members of our Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Knollwood school communities. As many already know, I am always happy to connect by phone or in person to listen and collaborate. This is because we are partners with a common purpose – excellence in your child's education. I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve as your Superintendent.
Matthew L. Montgomery, Ph.D.