More Students Join Garretson Schools for Second Semester

The number of students in the Garretson School District has been on an upward trend for the past three years, but in the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, student numbers dipped. Student numbers normally fluctuate during the school year, but only by a few students up or down. Starting in 2016, our fall enrollment has gone from 463 to 477 in 2017, 480 in 2018, 495 in 2019 and in 2020, down to 465 students. Fall enrollment is always counted on the last Friday in September for the “official” enrollment numbers for the State of South Dakota.

Since the fall count date, the district has welcomed an additional 5 Elementary School students, 3 Middle School students and 9 High School students. Some students have also moved out of the district since the count date, but overall, as of January 11, the number of k-12 students in the district is 474.

Our aim is to make each of these kids feel welcome in our school and to give them a positive learning experience both in our classrooms and in our activities.

Most Staff See Changes as Positive

Earlier in the year, we gathered data from a number different populations in order to use that data to identify areas of strength and opportunities for growth and improvement in the District.  Staff were given the opportunity to share their thoughts through a survey.  The results of the survey were shared with the Board of Education at the Board Retreat on January 25th, 2017.  The Board has continued with work that was started in January by revising the District’s official goals, which will be used as the root of a new strategic plan.  Over the next several weeks, we will share survey data that identifies both areas of strength and possible areas in which we may focus District improvement efforts.

Surveys for staff included a scale where they could select one of four possible answers between “strongly disagree,” and “strongly agree.”  All of the scaled responses are included in the PDF below, but three survey points stood out as areas in which most of the staff either agree or strongly agree.

  • 85% of staff agree or strongly agree with the statement that positive changes are being made in our school.
  • 91% of staff agree or strongly agree with the statement that administrators in our school challenge staff members to be effective.
  • 86% of staff agree or strongly agree with the statement that it’s ok to discuss concerns, frustrations or worries with administration.

Some of those possible areas for improvement include the following:

  • 79.6% of staff agree or strongly agree (20.4% D/SD) with the statement that in our school, professional expectations are clear.
  • 68.2% of staff agree or strongly agree (31.8% D/SD) with the statement that administrators in our school are aware of what goes on in classroom.
  • 64% of staff agree or strongly agree (36% D/SD) with the statement that in our school, all students are held to a high standard of behavior, no matter “who” you are.

One could spend a great deal of time trying to “interpret,” or “guess” what people’s intent is when they answer survey questions.  We choose to take the answers at face-value.  To us, the staff survey yielded the positive information that, in general, staff believes we’re making positive changes in the schoolhouse, and that our administrators are encouraging staff to improve, while maintaining open lines of communication.

Those possible areas for improvement also tell us something important – while the majority of our staff believe that expectations are clear, and students are consistently held to a high standard of behavior, we may have some work to be done regarding communication and consistency of expectations for both students and staff.  Likewise, we know that each of the administrators in the building would like to be out among our students and staff more frequently.

Overall, we appreciate the feedback that our staff has given through the survey, and we look forward to incorporating this data into the strategic plan.  If you’re curious or interested in the list of questions we posed to the staff, and the percentage responses for those questions, click the link to the PDF document below.

Garretson School District Staff Survey 2016-2017