Starting this week, students, staff and parents of the York City School District will have a chance to tell school leaders how they really feel.

The district is launching a comprehensive survey designed to gather opinions about the district's security, leadership, facilities, learning environment, respect for diversity and more.

"This is going to take a look at the relationship that exists between students and teachers, the relationships that exist between the staff, the relationships that exist between parents and teachers and parents and staff," Superintendent Eric Holmes said. "Every group that we test, the way that the survey is put together, it's layer after layer after layer of information. We will have a wealth of data that we can look at."

The survey aims to help the district achieve one of the three main goals of its state-mandated financial recovery plan. The goals are to restore financial stability, improve academic performance and ensure the district's schools are safe and healthy. The survey will specifically address the latter.

"How do you determine whether the learning environment is safe and secure? Well, you ask the people who work and learn in that environment what they think about it," Holmes said.

This year's survey is intended to serve as a baseline measurement of perceptions that will be compared to future results, Holmes said.

"We're going to grow from this year's survey," he said. "We're going to be addressing those concerns that we see."

York City officials hired the Center for Social and Emotional Education to create the survey. Annually, the effort is estimated to cost the district $11,550.

Each school will administer the survey on its own schedule during the next few weeks. All students and staff will take the survey, Holmes said.

The district is aiming to collect responses from at least 30 percent of parents, he said.

The surveys are computer-based and can only be taken while the person is physically inside the school building. Parents should watch for correspondence from their child's school for information about when they can take the survey, Holmes said.

Surveys will be available in both English and Spanish. Questions will also be age-appropriate, meaning that first-graders won't be answering the same questions as high-school seniors.

The center that developed the survey has done this for school districts before, Holmes said.

When all the data is compiled, school leaders will be able to evaluate the answers based on a variety of demographics.

"We wanted to dig as deep as we could," Holmes said. "That was the most compelling part. We can take a look as deep as a classroom."

— Reach Erin James at