Editor's Note—Patch asked Township High School District 113 Superintendent George Fornero to respond to. He wrote the following letter. Though parts of his response are incorporated into a separate story on this page, the letter is published here in its entirety.
In May, 2011, District 113 reached out to residents to volunteer for study groups that would analyze and prioritize the needs at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools. Six groups were established, one of those groups was the Market Research Committee. This group was made up of professionals with expertise in the field. We would not have been able to afford their services if members hadn’t volunteered for free.
The market research group decided to conduct focus group research as well as a community wide survey. The goal was to get input from the community regarding various school issues. The data was analyzed by professionals on the team and they created a comprehensive report. This report has been posted on the District 113 website since March 13th. The report details how the survey was analyzed and highlights the main findings; it also includes statistics.
A majority of the members on both the Market Research Team and the Leadership Team decided that the raw data you requested should not be released. It was the opinion of the community members on the Market Research Committee that releasing the data is not a common professional practice. The Board of Education agreed with the decision and continues to support it. Furthermore, the requested data is exempt from FOIA because it is predecisional material.
After the survey’s results were presented to the Leadership Team, the same market research volunteers were asked to compare how the results stacked up against recommendations the other study groups had established. They were looking for the similarities and differences between the community survey data and the study group recommendations. Once again, their findings were publicly presented and are available online.
I want to emphasize that the survey was conducted as one of the many components of the study group process. The compilation of all of these elements (including the multiple study group recommendations and the qualitative and quantitative research results) are instructive as we make future plans. Throughout this entire process, District 113 has strived to be inclusive, transparent, thorough and steadfast in our efforts to develop a Long Range Facility plan for Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools. We believe that we have been successful in our efforts and would like to thank the more than 100 volunteers who have been involved in the process.
After more than a year of work, the Leadership Team will present its recommendations to the Board of Education on Monday, May 21. We encourage the public to attend. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of Highland Park High School and will start at 7:30 p.m. If someone is unable to attend, I will make sure the presentation is posted on the District 113 website.
George V. Fornero
District 113 Superintendent