The Problems With the Budget Survey

Have you completed the 2015 Jeffco Schools Budget Survey?  Here’s the link:

http://jeffcoschools.citizenbudget.com/

 

Last year, more than 13,100 people completed the budget survey and gave more than 400 pages of written comments – 4088 individual comments (no written comments were allowed this year.)  Immediately, the Board Majority cried foul stating that people took the survey over and over again to skew results.  That was resolved when a CORA request showed differing IP addresses proving valid and independent results with only one IP address showing up numerous times (we believe the number was more than 13 but less than 20) and that location being identified as one hosting a house party.

 

Here are the results from last year’s budget survey:

02132014_Community_Survey_Results[1]

 

This year, the Board Majority decided to PAY (as in take away dollars from funding kids and use those taxpayer dollars) to have an independent company take care of this survey so the data would be more “accurate.”  So, now we have a situation wherein the survey still may or may not be accurate, using the Board Majority’s own philosophy.  Here’s why:

The budget survey for 2015 asks individuals to fill out the following items noted here in BLACK:

 

Email address (required) – An email address is a good start.  However, some households share a private email address.  If both mom, dad, and maybe a student or grandparent want to take the survey, the system MUST allow multiple responses from the same email address.  Does this system prevent anyone from doing the survey with multiple email addresses?  No, it does not.  One individual may have several email accounts and, additionally, there are no requirements that the email be validated.

 

Name (NOT required) – Feel free to make one up or use your own or just leave it blank.  There’s no requirement so we can’t ensure that Bob Smith and Sandy Smith both used bobandsandy@xyzmail.com with a validated email address to complete the survey. The district certainly doesn’t have the capacity to check on every name to ensure they’re real people, so…this one can’t help us, either.

 

Postal Code (NOT required) – You can leave this blank but if you fill it in, why does the survey have to be limited to limited just JeffcoWe know there are stakeholders such as grandparents who live outside of Jeffco and in other states, parents of teachers who live outside of Jeffco and in other states, and anyone’s favorite political party may very well want to share the survey statewide or nationally to ensure partisan politics impact the results. There are non-custodial parents who live in outside areas as well! Who is to say who exactly is a valid stakeholder and who is not? Some folks will say anyone who pays taxes is a stakeholder or maybe just anyone who lives in the state. Big red flags on this item, anyone?

 

What part of Jeffco you live in – Again, not a requirement, so go ahead and lie or tell the truth or just don’t answer.

 

Whether or not you are a staff member – Not certain HOW this impacts a budget survey that asks for community feedback, but whatever.

 

Allows you to represent yourself as ONE from the following groups: 

 

 

 

Here’s one other piece of data that you’re NOT being asked to give, but IS collected:  Your IP address while completing the survey.  Now this gets tricky as well!  Do you have WiFi at your home like nearly everyone does these days?  If you complete the survey on any device connected to that WiFi, they all come back with the same IP address. So mom, dad, student, and anyone else at the home who connects to WiFi can be reported as “an individual who took the survey more than once.” If you’re headed to Starbucks and log-on to the free WiFi there while completing the survey, you’re on a new IP address.  If you don’t connect to WiFi, you will have the IP address of your individual iPad, iPhone, Computer, Notebook, Kindle, etc. – so you could, technically complete the survey with every device you’d like to use and get that IP listed as an independent response.

 

This survey was distributed to Chambers of Commerce, on Social Media and Newsletters of various organizations, from the district website, district emails, Chalk Talk, via the Denver Post online which has a reach to all of Colorado and beyond, AND via political party enewsletters and emails.

 

So, we ask, does the information collected lead to real community input?  Are the results valid? Are they in the best interests of Jeffco kids? Was this truly the best use of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money that was meant for the students in Jeffco Schools?  Will community feedback be ignored again this year?