By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
ALTON — A survey conducted by the Alton Teachers Association revealed what Richard Brown, president of the association, describes as a "caustic environment" at Alton Central School, the responsibility for which he said "falls on the superintendent's desk."
Maureen Ward, the superintendent of schools, could not be reached to comment on the survey.
The survey, which was conducted in February and March, drew responses from 38 of the 44 teachers and support staff at Alton Central School.
The survey posed four questions to teachers, one about their relationships with their peers, two sounding their opinion of the administration and the fourth measuring morale among teachers, support staff, students and administrators. Teachers were also invited to comment in response to each question as well as to offer remarks at the end of the survey.
Nearly three-quarters of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that that their fellow teachers treated them with respect and nine of ten said that their peers listened when they offered suggestions for "doing things better." One teacher commented "I strongly believe that one of the objectives of the administration was to create a divide and that is being accomplished," which was echoed by three others, one whom wrote "Some are targeted and some not."
Asked if they work with an administration that respects them, the teachers were divided, with 38 percent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing and 34 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing and the remainder neutral. Of the 38 respondents, 16 offered comments. One referred to a "culture of intimidation" and called the administrators "the least effective group of administrators I have ever worked with." Another said "I have yet to meet the superintendent" while a third described the administration as "not approachable." But, one teacher insisted "I have felt nothing but respect from our administrators" while another expressly confined criticism to the superintendent.
More than eight of ten teachers disagreed or strongly disagreed that the administration communicates effectively, operates under a shared vision for the school and helps teachers fulfill their vision. Seven in ten disagreed or strongly disagreed that the administrators valued input from teachers and parents.
"There is no shared vision as parents, teachers, support staff and more have not been allowed to be part of the process," commented one teacher, an opinion expressed by more than a half-dozen others. "Communication is abysmal," a teacher wrote, "and I do mean ABYSMAL."
More than eight of ten teachers and seven of ten support personnel disagreed or strongly disagreed that their morale is high.
"How could it be high?" asked one teacher, while another declared "Morale is the lowest I have ever seen it on all fronts" and another offered "Everyone seems miserable except for admin."
Many of the general comments touched on the theme that the administration, primarily the superintendent, has failed to establish sound relationships with teachers while at the same time fostering division among them. "A select chosen few have been pulled into the inner circle and are clearly getting preferential treatment," wrote one teacher.
However, a colleague remarked "I feel as if those teachers who are happy do not feel comfortable speaking out because they do not want to offend other teachers who are more vocal about their unhappiness."
"It is just an awful place to be right now," a teacher wrote. " A really awful place."
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