The following document is a report on
irregularities in the Auburn City School's survey concerned with the Year Round
School/Alternative Calendar issue. This report was submitted to the Auburn City
Council on 11/30/98 and to the Board of Education on 12/2/98. The document
below is complete except as noted. All letters are unedited transcriptions of
the original handwirtten or typed copies.
November 23, 1998
Report on the
Irregularities of the Auburn City School Balloting on
Conducted 12 - 19
the Auburn City Council through Mayor Bill Ham
222 Singleton St.
Auburn, AL 36830
November 30, 1998
Ham171 N. Ross
St.Auburn, AL 36830
re: irregularities in the Auburn City
Schools year round school written survey
Dear Mayor Ham:
Many irregularities were noted in the
recent year round school survey conducted by Auburn City Schools. We bring only
those with which we are closely familiar to your attention as these incidents
and problems have significantly biased the survey results.
As these results may well be used by
the ACS Administration to justify year round school in Auburn immediately with
the upcoming vote by the Board of Education or in the future at a time when
parents and citizens may be less watchful, we want you and the Council to have
a record of the problems encountered in obtaining the survey data.
We urge you to consider the enclosed
information carefully. The survey instrument shows bias in both Sections A and
B, the instructions to voters on how to complete the survey were biased, and
the survey was conducted with inadequate controls. Consequently, any results
from the survey are invalidated due to these serious irregularities.
Please note the Troy State professional
review of the survey, noting fatal survey errors.
Problems in any one of the areas
mentioned could be considered a fatal flaw of the validity of the survey. The
numerous irregularities throughout cause one to question the intent of the
These inappropriate actions by the ACS
Administration have already caused the beginnings of the destruction of the
parent/teacher/school system synergistic bond as spoken to by Drs. Steven Kempf
and Chris Newland at previous Council meetings. Many already feel that their
volunteer efforts, whether it be spending time helping kindergartners check out
books on a weekly basis or donating items to the PTA only to repurchase them at
twice (or more) the cost, are not only wasted but entirely unappreciated by the
schools when this kind of waste is permitted to continue.
Distrust between the community and ACS
is increasing. How can parents trust school administrators when they continue
to receive misinformation as evidenced in the two "fact sheets"
parents received along with the "Perspectives" insert in the OA News
which presented information differently
than in the two "fact sheets"? Then, to have many parents, who
received the fact sheets in the mail, NOT receive the parent survey in their
mail is unpardonable. One such parent asked Mary Ann MacKenzie on 11/25/98 when
she would be receiving her parent survey in the mail. She was not happy when
she was told the survey was supposed to have been completed 11/19/98, almost
one week earlier. Dave Elton received calls from people inquiring of him why
they hadn't received their survey in the mail. These are just a few isolated
incidents. How many Auburn citizens did not receive any information regarding
the survey and thus, were not allowed to voice their opinion? The breakdown of
our community spirit in supporting ACS began with past experiences, and
continues with the year round school program.
Please review the enclosed materials
carefully. We believe you will see the insurmountable problems with the survey
and the survey process which, consequently, completely invalidate any results
obtained from the survey.
We would enjoy the opportunity to
discuss this with you at your convenience. Please feel free to call on us with
any questions your may have.
Please address questions about the
attached report to Dave Elton, who compiled it.
Enebak3 other unreadable
Concerned Parents and Citizens of
c: Auburn City Schools Board of
Education Auburn City Council
Two surveys were conducted:
Balloting and phone surveys. These form the two parts of this report.
Section One: Balloting
Auburn City Schools performed
separate balloting for at least these groups:
the Alternative calendar committee (ballot mailed to them)
Auburn City Schools teachers
some Auburn City School students
citizens of Auburn
Note that Auburn City Schools
teachers who are parents were eligible to vote three times. Parents were
eligible to vote as citizens (one each) and as parents (once together). It is
understood that these ballots will be tallied independently.
No Pre testing. Dr. Freeman,
assistant superintendent of Auburn City Schools has said that no pre-testing of
the survey instrument was done. This is a major problem with any survey.
Pre-testing determines how people answer and what they meant to answer. Without
a pre-test, gross errors can occur.
Pre-testing would have avoided the
some of the problems reported herein.
On the ballots, the traditional calendar summer vacation dates were
underestimated (11 weeks instead of 12) which makes the current summer vacation
duration closer to the year round school vacation times. While this was pointed
out in the 3 Nov 1998 Board of Education meeting, no change was made. See
The significance is: the shorter summer
breaks under year round school
do not seem as short when the current calendar summer break is reported
This irregularity was brought to the ACS
administration by letter on 30 Oct 1998. ACS personnel at the Auburn City
Schools Board of Education meeting on 10 Nov 1998 acknowledged this
irregularity. This irregularity was mentioned in most of the PTA meetings on
year round school and was addressed in the Auburn High School Town Meeting on
year round school on 12 Oct 1998. The irregularity was in a letter to the
editor in the Opelika-Auburn News 20 Nov 1998, pA-4.
Yet, no action was taken to
correct the survey!
ballot instructions included directions to mark two choices for calendars in
Box B (see Attachment 5) Even if a voter chose Strongly Disagree with a change,
marking two choices indicates that he favors a change half the time. A Strongly
Disagree voter should be instructed not to mark any calendar, much less two of
This rudimentary fault makes it
impossible to interpret the votes.
The Troy State pollster hired to review the survey pointed out this fatal flaw.
A private citizen did this simple measure - hiring a professional - before the
ballot was used (see enclosed invoice and survey review in Attachment 7). The
flaw was also apparent to many, who contacted Lynda Rainer at Auburn City
School, but had no success in getting the ballot changed. Mr. Vance Rutherford
(704-0366) even made an alternative ballot (also reviewed by Troy State) that
corrected this flaw and took it to Superintendent Martin.
This flaw makes the ballot results
strongly favor year round
note that some Auburn City Schools principals "informally" surveyed
their teachers before the official polling, using at least one different survey
(see Attachment 4)These results were reported in a citizen (not ACS) letter in
the Opelika-Auburn News 15 Nov 1998, pA-4 and in the ACS OA News newspaper
insert on about 3 November 1998.
The results from that survey, cited in a
letter to the editor of the Opelika-Auburn News (15 Nov 1998, pA-4) are not
valid, because the current
calendar was not a choice!
the survey form had five calendars.
Three of them were calendars that
the Auburn City Schools Alternative Calendar committee did not investigate
(A, B and C). Only D was investigated. E was the Traditional Calendar.
Auburn City Schools was asking the
citizens to select from calendars whose academic, economic, social and
community interests and problems were not investigated by anyone.
Conduct of the Survey:
There was no control over the
number of surveys distributed. Therefore, no percent return can be calculated.
ACS cannot even know how many people they reached.
It is impossible to determine
the validity of the survey without knowing who received the survey. Yet, ACS
had no control over the citizen part of the survey. Apparently, the parent part
was not well controlled either - since some parents didnÌt get a parent
survey (see below).
One of the first numbers to come
out in any election is the percent of registered voters who actually voted.
Usually, with a survey, if a certain percent of return is not obtained, a
second round or reminder notices will be sent out until the desired percent is
received. This way the surveyor can feel confident that the survey represents a
good sample of the respondents. A professional pollster at Troy State
University verbally verified that this type of poll must have a significant
return to be valid (Ms. Joyce Kerwin, 1 334 670 3524).
not all parents received the green parental ballot in the mail that allowed
them to vote (a list of some of them is attached). Those that didnÌt
likely didnÌt know they were supposed to and didnÌt request one.
Those that didnÌt most likely didnÌt know they could vote as
parents as well as citizens
(Names and phone
numbers of 41 parents who did not receive the survey were provided here.)
some parents, when made aware of this were able to get another green parent
survey ballot at the polling station. Others were not (no names provided).
some Auburn City Schools students were allowed to vote twice, and some were not
(see Attachment 2). Letters from four are attached (one rejected, three
accepted). Ms. Joanne Thomson (826-7913) witnessed Assistant Superintendent Dr.
Freeman telling a student that no more under-18 voting would be allowed.
middle school students were read the Attachment 1 attached handout just before
balloting. The handout virtually promises sporting and creative activities that
were never discussed by the Auburn City Schools Alternative calendar committee,
and whose funding was never discussed. Sufficient funding of remedial
activities is almost impossible, much less funding for pottery, water colors,
oils, sculpting, arts and crafts, ballet dancing, tap dance, jazz dance, modern
dance, Shakespeare in the Park, Exploratory Music, Foreign Language
exploration, Computer (Internet use, multi-media presentations, etc.), Video
production, Sport Camps (basketball, swimming, cheerleading, volleyball,
fishing, rock climbing. etc.), Book Clubs, Author Studies, Inventor's Club,
Astronomy Club, Stock Market Exploration.
Use of the year round school
intersessions for "Helping Auburn High School students pass the exit
exam" was mentioned for the first time, although no financial discussion
this has ever taken place at an ACS Alternative Calendar meeting.
no security at the ballot boxes (no "locked boxes" as promised
verbally twice by Dr. Martin (1 Oct and 3 Nov 1998 at year round school
committee meetings). Taped, cardboard boxes with large slots in them were used.
Pictures are attached. See Attachment 6.
Even with the ACS person at the
front desk of the ACS office watching, because of the placement of the box
relative to her position, every time someone put a survey in the box and turned
their back to her, her view of the box was entirely cut off, allowing ballot
The voter registration pad was left out
at night and was actually examined by several individual who attended the PTA
Council meeting Tuesday night (11/17/98), making it possible for signatures to
be added or deleted. Adding signatures would be required to provide cover for
ballot box stuffing.
Section Two: Phone Survey
Auburn City Schools conducted a phone
survey on year round school.
Auburn City Schools engaged Dr. Gerald
Johnson, former Auburn City School Board President, of Capital Surveys, to
conduct a phone poll for free. No discussion of the budget for the poll took
place in the September or October Auburn City School Board meetings. He has
been unable to get copies of the Auburn City School minutes despite repeated
requests for over a month.
The preliminary polling instrument is
attached. It contains questions on year round school, calendar choice and cost
of year round school. Cost is a very important item, left off the written
Problems with the phone survey made to
Auburn residents are contained in Attachment 7.
A survey must be completed if it is to be
counted at all. Thus, incomplete surveys are discarded. Attempts to discourage
citizens from completing the survey are fatal violations of survey protocol.
We do not know how the phone numbers were
selected (were campus prefixes eliminated (eliminating graduate students)? were
cell phones used? etc.)
This form was read to Middle
School students the day before they voted on year round school.
This form gives the strong impression
that there will be many Auburn City Schools sponsored fun enrichment activities
during intersessions. There has been no public discussion of funding this. In
fact, there has been very controversial discussion on how to obtain funding on
the most recent reason* for year round school -- remediation at-risk students.
Note that this form introduces another
ACS reason for year round school (the 7th) -- helping Auburn High School
students pass the high school graduation exit exam. The ACS Alternative
Calendar committee never considered this reason.
*the other reasons were:
1. The Board of Education
charged the Auburn City Schools administration to study the YRS
concept.2. The Auburn 2020
report directed Auburn City Schools to examine the YRS
"Continuity of learning" is enhanced under
YRS.4. Overall academic
achievement increases with
YRS.5. Year round school
will improve the performance of at-risk
Year round school is needed to
reduce teacher burnout.
Nov 13 90 03:59p Auburn Board
of Education 887 - 2107
What is an
On November 19 you will be
asked to complete a survey asking your opinion about an alternative calendar
for our school system. You should be informed about what an alternative
calendar involves before you make your decision.
Terms To Know.
Calendar-Sometimes called Year Round School, this does not mean that you would
go to school "year round" The school system is investigating taking a
few weeks from summer and redistributing them throughout the year. Three of the
possible alternative calendars include a Fall Break, three-week Winter Break,
and a two or more week Spring Break or Intersessions
is the breaks/vacation time between the grading periods. 1-Remediation could be
offered at this time for students who need extra help in certain areas or need
to improve their grade.
o Sixth grader who
needs help in science o
Eighth grader who needs tutoring in algebra
o Twelfth grader
who needs tutoring for
the High School Graduation Exam
o Twelfth grader who
needs tutoring in chemistry
2-Enrichment courses could be offered at
this time for students who do not need remediation but would like to take
o Art Classes
(pottery water colors, oils, sculpting, arts and crafts, etc.)
o Exploratory Dance
(ballet, tap, jazz,
o Drama (plays,
short stories, Shakespeare in the Park)
o Exploratory Music
o Foreign Language
exploration (French, Spanish, etc.)
(Internet use, multi-media presentations, etc.)
o Video production
o Sport Camps
(basketball, swimming, cheerleading, volleyball, fishing, rock climbing. etc.)
o Book Clubs,
o Inventor's Club
o Astronomy Club
o Stock Market
o Odyssey of the
3-This time could be
used as a vacation time for students, teachers and families.
How long would summer
be if there was
summer was approximately 11 weeks. The sample calendars have summers ranging
from 7 weeks to 11 weeks. You will be asked to select your first two
Are there other
reasons that the school system is considering an alternative calendar?
The new high
school graduation exit exam for the state of Alabama is tile second most
difficult in the United States (Vermont is first). This year's 10th grade will
be the first class to take this test. There are other proposed state mandated
tests that our students must be prepared to take. Auburn, like other school
systems across the state, is investigating ways of helping our students be more
The school system
sees the possible positive aspects of an alternative
to include tile following:
time during intersessions for students who need help before they get too far
would be spread out throughout the year so families would have more options
when they wanted to travel.
o Finals and
projects would be completed before Christmas (Fall and Spring also) so there
would be no schoolwork over the break.
frequent breaks could reduce the stress load for both students and teachers.
The school system sees the
possible negative aspects of an alternative calendar to include the following:
Families could be
schedules could conflict
Day care could be a
problem for some families
Some summer jobs
could be affected
The important thing is for you
as a student to know the facts before you fill out the survey. Ask questions,
talk to your parents, and then make your decision.
Fri Nov 20 09:09:22 1998Date:
Fri Nov 20 1998 08:52:19
-0600From: Linda Silvern
"David J. Elton"
Re: Pro YRS Propaganda from Teachers
My daughter Becca-Drake Middle School
student (who with Erica Newland was on the committee of 50) said that
Ûinformation about YRS with the list of enrichment activities was read to
her class and she was not allowed to respond to it until after every one had
Ûvoted. Then she was allowed to explain that the budget proposals didnt
include any of those wonderful activities and they would probably never take
place. She reported that many of her classmates wanted to change their choices
and had trouble doing so since many had filled the survey out in pen. She also
reported that several of her friends in other classes had chosen YRS options
because of the enrichment list. They obviously had no one knowledgeable to
speak against it. She said it swayed friends who were on the fence as to what
they thought. I will be writing another letter to BOE about this. I am beyond
appalled at this point.
Letter: Committee member dismayed at
Attached (See A-1) (see above), is a
copy of a letter on the YRS community education process that I read at the Nov.
17th city council meeting. I have covered these same points with school
administrators and the school board at various times over the past few months.
In all the years that Ive worked the
PTA, I have never seen a more biased handling of an issue by school
administrators. Throughout the process, I have made our administrators and
school board members aware of my concerns. But the blasted information kept
In the past few days, Ive had numerous
calls from parents who are totally confused by the survey and polling process.
Ive also received calls from parents wondering when they were going to get
Last night, I overheard a conversation
of some middle school children about a presentation they heard at school
regarding year-round school These children were talking about all of the
wonderful enrichment classes that would be offered during the inter
sessionUart, music, rock climbing, etc.
A check with a teacher this morning
confirmed their story and the fact that the presentation was made before the
children were to fill out a survey on this issue. As a member of the committee
appointed to look at YRS, I know that our committee did discuss enrichment
activities but only in a most general way. I also know that Dr. Martin made it
clear that there were no dollars in the current budget to pay for such
wonderful things. We dont even have the money to pay for the proposed
Im deeply concerned that our
administrators would use children in this manner. Im so concerned that Ive
decided to submit the letter I read at the city council meeting for publication
in your letters to the editor column.
Letters from students indicating
some were allowed to vote as citizens as some were not allowed to vote as
This shows the inconsistencies in the
Note the ages of voters.
At 5:20pm on 11/19 Shannon
Symuleski tried to turn in a survey as a citizen. She was denied because she is
17 and was told she had to be 18.
November 22, 1998
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is to confirm that
I was allowed to submit a Community survey on the Alternative Calendar on
November 18, 1998, at the Auburn City School Central Office, 855 E. Samford
Ave., Auburn AL 36830. I am presently 11th-grade student at Auburn High School.
Pate116 S. Ryan
StreetAuburn, AL 36830
November 20, 1998
Ive heard that several
students were not allowed to turn in a Year Round School survey as community
members. I dont understand why. On Monday, 16 November 1998, I turned in a
community survey at the ACS office and was not even questioned. I believe
students are members of the community also. We should have a say in this
because it will effect us directly. If parents and teachers are allowed to vote
as community members, students should too.
I voted in the ACS survey on
11-19-98. No one said anything about my age.
Jon Thomson, age
I signed up for a survey
for auburn city schools.
Ralph Spry, age 9
36830November 23, 1998
Dr. David Elton:
I went to the ACS Central
Office on Thursday, November 19th, with my children to return our surveys.
There was no problem with my survey; however, my children were given a pretty
hard time. Had I known ahead of time that they would be treated so poorly, I
would never have taken them.
They were asked to present
identification. When they could not present drivers licenses, they were
subjected to ÛHumph and ÛIll ask. They waited (and waited)
patiently until someone finally came out and accepted a military I.D. card and
social security cards as adequate identification.
The worst part by far was
having Dr. Freeman come out of her office and very indignantly say, ÛThis
is getting ridiculous! From now on theyve got to be 18! It was then about
3:00p.m. I know for a fact that other children had been allowed to submit a
survey. I dont understand why we were treated so disrespectfully.
I do not believe the survey
achieved any real purpose. It was difficult to obtain, understand, and even to
return. While at the ACS office, I also noticed several people placing more
than one survey into the box. Were some allowed to submit more than one survey
or to turn in surveys for others who couldnt come? I saw such disorganization
that I think the survey was a farce! I really hope something can be done about
Sylvia A. Spry
I went to the ACS office with
my mom and they said I couldnt sign a survey, but then they let me sign.
Very important letters from Auburn
citizens showing that voting irregularities were present, and problems with
Apparently, Auburn City Schools staff was
allowed to vote without registering, and was allowed to vote more than once.
November 21, 1998
I am writing very briefly to
notify you of something I personally observed when turning in my YRS Survey
Thursday, Nov. 19, 1998 at the ACS Administration Bldg. The receptionist
required me to show a picture I.D. before signing in, which was fine. However,
while waiting in line to do this I noticed Dr. Suzanne Freeman place a survey
(or possibly surveys) in the box without signing in. I brought this to the
attention of the receptionist and she said Dr. Freemans Secretary was supposed
to be helping her watch and that she herself didnt see anything. When I asked
Dr. Freemans secretary about the requirement to show I.D. and sign in, she said
the staff there had just been putting theirs in the box too (without signing
in, as I observed Dr. Freeman do). You can see the problem with this, I am sure
they had the opportunity to put ballots (maybe even extra ones) in without
signing in. Dr. Freemans Secretary also informed me staff could turn in one
staff survey, one parent survey, and one community survey, so she got 3 votes
to my one vote, as well, and without showing a picture I.D. and signing in as I
was required to do
LaneAuburn, AL 36830
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 14:24:12
-0800 (PST)From: Debbie Bagwell
I tried to attach this file,
but am having difficulty doing so. Sorry.
After talking with my
daughter at Auburn High School, I realized that the procedure discussed in the
YRS subcommittee on surveying (which I am a member) was not followed. Each
student was supposed to place their survey in the survey box themselves.
Instead her teacher not only did not give her time to write comments, but she
also took each survey and placed them in a common envelope. Because of this
breech in the procedure process, she does not know what happened to her survey.
I also observed an enormously
large opening in the survey box at AHS. It was large enough to easily put a
November 12, 1998
Dr. Michael Martin,
Schools855 E. Samford
Ave.Auburn, AL 36830
Dear Dr. Martin:
One of the objectives of the
committee to explore an alternative school year is to seek public input and
opinion regarding an alternative school calendar. The committee is using a
survey in their attempt to ascertain public opinion regarding an alternative
school calendar. After inspection of the committees survey instrument I can
only come to one conclusion; the Alternative School Year Community Survey is
not a valid survey instrument and hence will be of no utility to the committee
in meeting its objective of measuring public opinion on the subject of an
alternative school calendar. This is my opinion regardless of how the numbers
Standard and accepted
methodology in the development of surveys is to have a survey instrument
reviewed by peers in the field of inquiry. This review often provides insight
into the research question and an instrument is often modified based on
comments of the reviewers. A revised instrument is then pre-tested using a
sample of the survey respondent population. This is a critical step in the
development of a survey instrument. Pre-testing allows identification of
difficult and ambiguous instructions and questions prior to full implementation
of the survey. If a survey is ambiguous, ambiguous results will follow.
At the November 11, 1998 Board
of Education meeting concerns regarding the Ûambiguous nature of the
survey were raised by many. I talked with Dr. Freeman during the break of the
meeting regarding the survey. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to learn
that the survey had been neither peer reviewed or pre-tested. Had the survey
been developed using accepted methodology problems with the confusing and
ambiguous nature of the survey could have corrected. Problems with the survey
Use of the words Ûwould
and Ûcould in the Section A and Section B. These words are often used to
soften the force of a statement. The statement in Section A should have read
something like ÛI support a changing of the school calendar. The
statement in the survey reads as if the ACS has already made a decision to
change the school calendar. Responses in Section B should have read ÛI
support Calendar X. These are serious flaws in the instrument.
Many of the community are
undecided or have no opinion regarding an alternative school calendar. The
survey assumes everyone agrees or disagrees, at some level, with the concept of
changing the school calendar. There is no response in Section A for those still
undecided or having no opinion. This is a fatal flaw in the survey instrument.
In the interpretation of the data, the committee can not assume these people
will not make a selection of the alternatives presented in Section A.
If a respondent disagrees or
strongly disagrees with changing the school calendar there is really only one
option for them in Section B, supporting the traditional calendar. Yet a
respondent is instructed to mark their first and second choices in Section B.
How are these data to be interpreted? This is a serious and possibly a fatal
flaw in the instrument.
Three of the sample calendars
have factual errors. Calendar C has 68 days or10 weeks (or 9.7 weeks) in the
summer vacation and not 9 weeks as stated in the survey. Calendar D has 55 days
or 8 weeks (or 7.9 weeks) in the summer vacation and not 7 weeks as stated in
the survey. Calendar D has 84 days or 12 weeks in the summer vacation and not
11 weeks as stated in the survey. Respondents will be selecting two of five
calendars, three of which are factually incorrect and do not exist. These are
fatal flaws in the instrument and makes interpretation of any results
I also have other concerns
regarding the survey and the process in which it is being administered. Based
on my concerns stated above results of the Alternative School Year Community
Survey will be of no utility to the committee in measuring public opinion on
the subject of an alternative school calendar regardless of how the numbers
Ave.Auburn, AL 36830
cc: Board of Education
My daughter and Milla's
daughter voted as community members on Monday. When I voted yesterday Lois
Flowers told a student to go get her ID and she could vote as community member.
PateAssistant Professor of
Auburn City Schools principals
surveyed their teachers before the official polling, using a different survey.
One of those surveys is attached.
This one is from Dr. Self, Auburn High
The results from that survey, cited in
a letter to the editor of the Opelika-Auburn News (15 Nov 1998, pA-4) are not
because the current
calendar was not a choice!
This also invalidates the data published
by ACS (OA News insert, about 3 Nov 1998) stating that 40 of 242 ACS teachers
endorsed the traditional calendar, when that calendar was not even an option on
all of the teacher surveys. This appears to be outright deception of the
(The form for the Alternative
School year Teacher/Staff Pole was included here to show that this form had
only choices for alternative school year calendars and NO CHOICE for
traditional school year. This information was included as a rebuttal to the
following Opelika-Auburn News Guest Column that claimed that more than 85% of
the ACS teachers informally chose an Alternative calendar instead of a
traditional calendar. This is not surprising since the traditional calendar was
not one of the choices.)
column: YRS a good idea
After reading an
O-A News editorial of Nov. 12 on the importance of "play in a child's
day," I found that it is the "child" in me who desired the
present day school kids also to relax and play a lot at the end of every
quarter, as I did, that made me write so many letters in support of YRS.
I grew up in India
as a poor child, but rich with play time with my friends everyday. We played
several games in creative ways just for fun at home, on trees and around paddy
fields of the village and yet had enough time to memorize the prose and poetry
for the next day! In fact, play-time and school-time complemented each other so
well for me, that I became the valedictorian for the class of '58, with least
effort, though I was an at-risk student initially.
I looked at the
YRS "survey" as a child, a Ph.D. whose thesis was on the analysis of
motion and a designer of mechanisms in PCs, ATMs and other actuators. To move
an object, such as a rocking horse, between two given positions, we can come up
with infinite number of four-link mechanisms. But a good designer picks the one
with "the transmission angle close to 90 degrees" during its range of
motion, since such a device requires the lowest horse-power motor compared to
other designs. However, we have to note that even the choice of the best
mechanism does not guarantee economy and long life unless it is frequently
I studied the
calendar options from the above considerations of design and maintainability.
Of the calendars the Traditional Calendar with its second quarter extending
beyond the Christmas holiday season and into the new year with no good
'brakes,' is the one with least efficiency and hardest to maintain during the
year! But with a powerful motor it can be run as it is now, with several middle
and high school kids, going to bed only after mid night almost everyday.
it is not surprising that more than 85 percent of the ACS teachers informally
chose the Alternative Calendars in stead of the Traditional.
I also gather that only a third of the AU faculty are in favor of "STOP
YRS," that too with the assumption that YRS means only four weeks of
summer vacation! I am not surprised to learn that with two summer sessions and
several extension, outreach, research and developmental programs during summer,
only about 5 percent of the AU faculty will not have summer contracts with the
university. Hence YRS has no major effect on the university community, or the
rest, contrary to what we were repeatedly told to believe by a few.
uniform and all-round robustness, the best pick would be Alternative Calendar
C. Compared to the Traditional, it has half a week more Christmas vacation
after the second quarter, one week more of spring vacation and an additional
two weeks of fall vacation. That means a total of three-and-a-half weeks more
of vacation during the year. Yet its summer vacation (nine weeks) is only two
weeks short of Traditional summer ( 11 weeks). Hence there is a net gain of
one-and-a-half weeks of vacation with a new fall vacation. It is a very good
design with good maintainability and opportunities to lubricate the system in
the form of remedial action and relaxation. I sincerely congratulate the
designers for a very fine job done.
The close-up of
Calendar C looks even better. For example, holidays for Labor Day and
Thanksgiving are during the middle of first and second quarters. Thus Calendar
C's "transmission angles for both teaching and learning" are almost
perfect. If we lubricate the mechanism of this Alternative Calendar frequently,
it will give us long, reliable and economical service.
Let us look for
the good and praise it. Remember to vote for it!
Ph.D., is a resident of Auburn
Attachment 5. Ballot used in
the Auburn City School
year round school
survey, and other information.
1. Ballot used in the survey.
2. Letter from the Opelika-Auburn News
indicating that the number of summer weeks counted by Auburn City Schools for
survey was incorrect. It is stated as 11 when, in fact, it is 12. The shorter
number of weeks minimized the difference between YRS calendars and the current
calendar, making the change to
year round school
seem less severe.
3. For the record, Ms. Lynda Rainer, as
early as 14 Sep 1998 distributed the Alexander City year round school calendar,
with the wrong number of week so summer listed on it, also. She cited 9 weeks,
when there were 7 weeks and 4 days.
The error here makes it seem that year
round school summers (like in Alexander City) were not that much shorter than
our 12 week (cited as 11 weeks later) summer.
The effect is simply to make the
change to year round
school less drastic, biasing
the survey towards year
Opelika * Auburn
News* THE NEWSPAPER
OF EAST ALABAMA*11/20/98
Letter: Explain YRS
The letter "YRS doesn't
add up" of O-A News, Nov. 17, is very relevant. Decades back when Einstein
was asked to explain his theory of relativity to lay people, he said "When
you are in love, you don't feel time!" However, the case with YRS is
As the survey form states, the
teachers have eight more staff-days than the student-days in a year plus,
several other working days. Hence, the definition of a vacation is more
technical than is apparent! Perhaps in a Traditional Calendar, these staff and
other days run into the summer whereas, in YRS, some of them can be absorbed
during the additional YRS breaks and hence the net gains for the students
during the year. That is why even though all of the first three out of the four
Alternative Calendars end on May 25 for the students, their starting dates
(Aug. 10 and 2) differ by only eight days for a two week difference in summer
vacation ( 11 weeks and 9 weeks).
After reading the above letter
I poured one cup of sugar into three cups of water. The solution measured only
three and half cups and not four, as the math might indicate! It is a wonderful
world. ACS teaches good math, science and art. We are fortunate to have
teachers at ACS who are willing to give more breaks during the year to students
who often say "Give me a break!", while they themselves continue to
work. However, I too
request that ACS give a detailed explanation to this YRS vacation mystery.
(The "Fact Sheet
for Alternative Calendar Exploration Committee" document prepared by Ms.
Lynda Rainer and the Alexander City year round school calendar, with the wrong
number of weeks for summer listed on it --she cited 9 weeks, when there were
actually 7 weeks and 4 days -- were provided here. This information may be
obtained from David Elton at
Attachment 6. Pictures of
Pictures taken at the Auburn City School
office 17 Nov 1998, about 2PM. Ballot box for
year round school
Security was very low.
Cardboard box was used.
H.C. COBB, IV
CircleAuburn, AL 36832
I voted on the YRS issue on
Tuesday, I delivered my "at large" survey form to the central office
somewhere in the vicinity of 11:00am. When I entered the office, there were two
people behind the receptionists desk engaged in a discussion about some
paperwork being held by one of them. I immediately noticed the YRS survey box
in the waiting area and slipped my survey form into it. I was already out the
door before I remembered that I was supposed to sign a roster that indicated I
had voted. I don't think I was noticed by either person in the receptionist's
area until I came in the SECOND time. The arrangement certainly didnt seem very
Pate116 South Ryan
StreetAuburn, AL 36830
Last Monday about 5pm at the
ACS office, the survey ballot box was unattended for about five minutes. I
entered the office with three other individuals. We had to go to the back to
ask to turn in the survey form. Also, we were not asked for an ID as required.
Alice K. Pate
Paid review of the ACS
Paid review of the survey instrument used
by Auburn City School, indicating the fatal flaw in the instructions to mark
Box B with two calendar choices.
To quote the review, done by experienced,
professional pollster Ms. Joyce Kerwin:
does not take into
consideration those who oppose a change in the calendar
should be given so that only individuals who agree with the change should
The survey instrument was biased in favor
of year round school
Mr. Vance Rutherford (and others) made
this known to the Auburn City Schools Superintendent well before the survey (30
October 1998). Mr. Rutherford went so far as to offer another survey
("B" also reviewed by Ms. Kerwin) that eliminated this bias. His
document is attached.
(Documentation for the paid
review of the Auburn City Schools survey instrument was included here.
Information on documentation can be obtained from David Elton at
Attachment 8. Auburn City
School Phone survey information.
Auburn City Schools engaged Dr. Gerald
Johnson, former Auburn City School Board President, of Capital Surveys, to
conduct a phone poll for free. No discussion of the budget for the poll took
place in the Auburn City School Board meetings attended by Dr. Elton. He has
been unable to get copies of the Auburn City School minutes despite repeated
requests for over a month (3 November to present).
The preliminary polling instrument is
attached. It contains questions on
school, calendar choice and cost of
school. Cost is a very important
item, left off the written survey.
Problems with the phone survey of Auburn
residents are attached.
Note that a survey must be
if it is to be counted at all. Incomplete surveys are discarded. Attempts to
discourage citizens from completing the survey are fatal violations of survey
protocol, invalidating the survey.
Steve and Nancy Kincaid
November 9, 1998
My husband was surveyed
tonight. They did not mention money at all, and they only offered the 4
calendars and he asked about the traditional - no luck. They asked if he was
connected with the university, income, work for school
system.My daughter who has a
separate number was also called. I wanted to pass this on to you and Alice and
if you want you can pass it on. I was not at the whole meeting, but I thought
the phone survey was supposed to include questions about the cost. The
interviewer did start to describe the different calendars, then stopped when he
said he wanted the traditional one. I have 24 signs, was gone the weekend and
worked till 10:00 tonight. Is there someone who could use some? Nancy Kincaid
November 16, 1998
Last week, Wednesday night I
believe, I received a call from someone stating that she was conducting a poll
and would like to speak to the youngest male member of the family. I replied
that the youngest male member of my family was not at home and she asked if I
was a resident of Auburn and of this address and I said, "Yes". She
asked me several questions, including how familiar I was with the current issue
of alternative school calendar. I responded that I was familiar with the issue
and she asked how much I knew about it and I replied that I knew a good bit.
She then read a passage ending with a question as the whether I would like to
see a change.... or would I prefer for things to stay the same.
I replied that I would like
for things to remain the same at this time and she immediately and quite
brusquely asked me something about a survey. Her tone and question startled me
for I thought at first that she was asking something similar to, "Do you
want to do this survey?" in a tone which might mean that she felt I was
being unresponsive and making her job difficult. I said, "Pardon me"
I then understood that her question was, "Would I like to complete a
I thought that I had already
completed a survey by answering the questions she had already asked so I asked
her what the survey involved -- I thought maybe she was going to send me a
follow-up questionnaire or something. She said it was a series of questions and
a long survey and I asked, "How long?" She said, "Very
long." At that time I declined and she said thanks and goodbye. My husband
listened to the whole exchange, and after I got off the phone, asked me what
had happened. I told him that I felt like I had just been discouraged from
completing a survey and wondered if my initial answers had anything to do with
the way the rest of the conversation went.
Since I will not have children
in the city schools after this year, I am a little ambivalent on the subject of
the school calendar. I personally dont believe the problems with schools and
learning here in Auburn have much to do with scheduling and since no one has
shown me any good reason for making a change, I would vote to keep things as
they are at this time. I was very concerned, however, with how the telephone
survey was conducted. I wondered that if I had stated that I was for the new
calendar, if the rest of the conversation would have continued in the way it
I called my sister-in-law to
ask her if she had been polled. She had not, but agreed to let me know if she
got a call and, if so, how it was handled (she indicated that she would most
likely respond that she was in favor of a change). When I later talked to her,
she told me that she never received a call but several of her friends had. They
indicated that the survey took about 20 minutes to complete but had no other
Unsigned phone survey
reportRespondent willing to
speak privately with Bob Dumas or Bill Ham
the STOP YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL
300 N. Dean Rd. P.O. Box
5172Auburn, AL 36830-5045 Tel: