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Teachers in Orange positive about jobs
Orange School Employees positive about their jobs

Date published: 2/2/2013

BY DAN McFARLAND

Orange County teachers enjoy their jobs, despite several recent lean budget years and pay that trails most comparable surrounding counties, a recent survey concluded.

Wayne Worner, former dean of the College of Education at Virginia Tech and owner of Education Programs and Services LLC, last fall conducted the fourth in a series of climate surveys within Orange County schools.

The first study, in 2009, examined organizational climate in the school division, and sought employees' thoughts on budget priorities. The latest survey covered most of the same areas as in 2009, but added questions on an evaluation system now in place for professional and licensed workers.

Survey responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 4, and anything above a 2.5 rating being positive. Orange County School System employees gave positive responses on all 22 items on this year' survey.

Of 20 items on the 2009 survey, the score for 12 items stayed the same, and those for the other eight showed significant gains. More than 80 percent of those surveyed responded.

Job satisfaction received the highest ranking on the four-point scale at 3.46, while categories for participation and involvement of employees and for increased trust/reduced fear (of supervisors "trying to catch me doing something wrong") showed the greatest score gains over 2009.

The study noted that it was clear that school division employees "enjoy their present assignments," "are proud of the work they do" and "get along with their colleagues."

In the matter of budget priorities, those surveyed were in favor of any additional resources being applied to increasing pay rather than reducing pupil-teacher ratios.

Respondents had mixed feelings about the new evaluation process. One-third responded positively, a third less than positively and the rest expressed no opinion or felt they needed more time to reach a conclusion.

Worner, who has been involved in more than two decades of such research, said he was "stunned" by the positive results. He had anticipated a significant drop-off from the 2009 scores.

He complimented the School Board and administration for their attempts to address previous concerns and ameliorate the economic problems faced by the school division. He also characterized the positive results as a tribute to the school division employees--their resilience and commitment to helping students achieve their potential, and willingness to "go the extra mile with good spirits" under difficult circumstances.

Schools Superintendent Bob Grimesey called the results "a reflection on the character and professionalism" of school employees.

Dan McFarland:
Email: dmcfarland@freelancestar.com