Community Survey Results

  • Ely Addition Survey Results Clarification

    I would like to clarify the survey results provided by the Pierce County Tribune as reported in the October 23, 2021 and again in the October 30, 2021 issues. The Tribune included survey results from their Facebook page that asked the following question: Do you approve of plans to expand the Ely Elementary School campus? What wasn’t included was the total number of people that took the survey. At the time of the publications, according to the Pierce County Tribune’s Facebook Page, this survey was taken by less than 30 people. After these results were published in the paper, I have been asked if that data came from the survey issued by the school, and why the data was different than what the school provided in the Fact Sheet that was recently mailed to district residents. In short, the survey data provided by the Tribune on October 23rd and October 30th were not the surveys conducted by the school district.

    The following information comes from the survey that was sent out to all stakeholders in September. The school district mailed 1,905 surveys and the survey was able to be taken online or by paper. The district received 543 completed surveys. This was a good return rate and provided the district with valuable information on how the district residents feel about the Ely Elementary Addition. Survey data indicated that 68% of residents who took the survey support the addition and renovations at Ely Elementary. The resident data included the following subcategories: 1) Staff Residents, 2) Parent Residents (Non-Staff), and 3) Non-Parent Residents (Non-Staff). Staff Residents or those who work for the school district support the project at a 94% rate and 5% were undecided. Parent Residents that do not work for the school district support the project at a 77% rate and 8% were undecided. Non-Parent Residents or those that do not work in the district, and are not parents support the project at a 56% rate and 15% were undecided. When you include all of these data points together (543 completed surveys) 68% support the proposed addition and renovations at Ely Elementary.

    Based on the feedback from the survey results, the school board moved forward to call for a referendum vote that will occur on December 1, 2021, at the Rugby High School Gymnasium from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm. Ely Elementary has significant space issues and the proposed addition and renovation will add the following: 1) classroom space for students with special needs, 2) classrooms for band, choir, and courses in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), 3) update existing classrooms to provide more square footage for large-group and small group instruction, 4) redesign car and bus traffic, which will keep students safer during busy pick-up and drop off times, 5) install updated safety features at the main entrance, 6) expand the undersized cafeteria to provide students more time to eat, 7) expand and enhance recreation areas by renovating the current gym and playground areas to improve physical education and large group music opportunities. The school district can address all of these needs and it will represent no tax increase over the current level. We can accomplish this by using $1.3 million in one-time COVID Relief Funds to help buy down the cost of the project and leverage the expiring debt on the 2010 Rugby High School Project. In short, the current mill levy will not increase. 

    It is important to note that there are three opportunities to participate in public meetings to hear more information and help voters to make an informed decision. We will conduct our final public meeting on November 17th from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Ely Elementary Gym. We are also providing tours during the school day on November 17th from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm. If you are interested, please RSVP by calling 775-5757. If you cannot attend, I recommend visiting our school website at to find more factual information about the project. You can view a recorded video of the 1st public meeting held on October 27th. The referendum vote will occur on December 1, 2021 at the Rugby High School Gymnasium from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm. If you have further questions about the referendum, you can reach out Mike McNeff at 701-776-5201, or reach out to the following chairs of the Ely Elementary Citizen Committee, Carlie Johnson, Cory Geiszler, and Suzie Schmaltz.