OCR staff writer Chris Haire published the following today.
(Undoubtedly from a district press release.) “District Survey: The Brea Olinda Unified School District recently released a community survey in which 53 percent of the 350 respondents said the district is heading in the right direction; 78 percent said the quality of education is excellent or good. A majority also said the district needs more money. The margin of error was 5.2 percent.”
Whether the results are projectable will be the first issue raised. Here’s a basic research truism: when three people answer a question and 2 say no, the result of 67% is projectable to that group of three people… not to the larger population from which the sample was selected. The margin of error comes into play.
The MSE (Maximum Sampling Error), in this case ±5.2%, adjusts with sample quantity in a non-linear manner and it can make a big difference in how you interpret a statistic.
Painting the picture with their favorite colors.
The BOUSD and their consultant, no surprise here, will naturally characterize the survey results in a manner that supports their aspirations of successfully launching a school bond measure on the 2014 ballot. A modestly conservative interpretation of the same results is hardly as encouraging.
Twisting the numbers to suit their agenda.
If, as reported, 53% of the sample said the district is heading in the right direction (a concept that was not clearly defined to those taking the survey by the way), there is a 95% probability that the opinions of the entire population (in this case high propensity voters) would range between 47.8% to 58.2%.
Theoretically, the same holds true for each inquiry and it’s results. It is as legitimate to interpret, in this survey, that a majority (more than 50%) would feel that the district is NOT heading in the right direction.
The statement that “a majority” said that the district needs more money is misleading at best. Various dollar amounts (ranging from $129 million to $45 million) were suggested in the survey. Only when Yes and Maybe are added together does a supportive response emerge.
Another non-surprise, the BOUSD “favored” figure of $78 million got the highest response, 27% Yes, 28% Maybe. That 55%, considering the margin of error, pushes the credibility of calling the response a majority. When one adds together the No and Maybe Not in that inquiry, the response is equally ambivalent. The “I Don’t Care” response received 9%. What does that tell you?
If one takes all of the statistics into consideration, including the very small sample size relative to the large demographic group used, and factors in the stinging loss the BOUSD was handed on Measure E in 2012… I doubt they will succeed in burdening an already heavily indebted homeowner population (still paying off millions from the ’99 school bond with no idea where the money was spent) with a new bond measure in 2014.
How much of the ’99 bond has yet to be paid? Millions? Yes. What is it costing the average Brea homeowner every year? Hundreds, if not thousands? Yes.
Will Brea’s homeowners really be willing to double down on the BOUSD and it’s money hungry Board of Directors to the tune of almost another $100 million dollars?
I’m betting the answer is no.
Mr. Haire, in the future I wish you would seek input from both sides of an issue before publishing a public relations piece like that which appeared today.
UPDATE: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2013
In a rare exhibition of fiscal sensibility, the BOUSD tonight dismissed an agenda item to continue their pursuit of a new school bond (spending an additional $64,000 on the Lew Edwards Group). This was accomplished because no one would move or second the item for consideration.
Vigilance is still the byword however. And the 2014 elections should be a clean sweep of all the old deadwood.