Community/School Partnerships: A National Report
This report is the result of a collaboration between my firm, DeHavilland Associates, and the National School Foundation Association: they wanted to research school foundation issues, I wanted to explore community/school partnership issues, so we joined forces. We combined our questions into a single survey and pushed it out to superintendents, principals, and other district/school officials across the country.
From the nearly 800 responses, around two thirds of those (535) were actively involved in community/school partnerships, and it is those people whose voices are reflected in our report. (Note that NSFA may be publishing something on their responses in the near future; our report focuses exclusively on community/school partnerships.)
I'll be commenting on the survey over the next few days; The report offers analysis, but no commentary or speculation (much more appropriate for a blog). For now, I'll just share our key findings:
- When asked to rank the importance of current partners to their efforts, respondents put individual businesses first, parent organizations second, and booster clubs third.
- When asked to rank the partners with whom they’d most like to develop relationships, business coalitions came in first, followed by individual businesses and regional/national foundations.
- Schools and districts are willing to invest time and talent to make partnerships successful, with top officials working collaboratively with partners to design partnerships and set outcomes. However, most have not established systematic procedures to recruit and monitor partnerships.
- Businesses are listed most frequently by schools and districts as supporters (82.2%), with parent organizations mentioned nearly as often (76.1%).
- The total value of partnerships over the previous 12 months was limited, with 43.6% reporting a value of $25,000 or less, and the vast majority (83.0%) listing the value at less than $200,000.
- There were clear differences in the responses of suburban, urban, and rural schools and districts. Those in suburban areas note generally higher levels of support from community-based partners; those in urban areas receive greater support from institutional partners (nonprofits, foundations, and postsecondary institutions); and those in rural areas record below-average levels of support from every partner with the exception of booster clubs.
- Rankings of current partners reinforced the importance of local support, with regional/national foundations and nonprofits appearing at the bottom of the list (10 and 12 respectively). However, these organizations are seen as attractive future partners, with regional/national foundations listed third and regional/national nonprofits listed sixth on the ranking of partners with whom respondents would most like to develop a relationship.
I'm very excited about this project: it brings new data to an important, but often overlooked, facet of K-12 education.