Worthington is a school district with a great reputation, good teachers, and a strong curriculum, according to a recent survey.

Worthington is a school district with a great reputation, good teachers, and a strong curriculum, according to a recent survey.

Overall management, financial management, technology, and communication have improved in the past two years.

On the other hand, the district needs to keep costs down, attract a better quality of teachers, and improve communication with the public.

Overall, the district gives the district an "A-".

Those are a few of the sometimes contradictory results of a survey of 400 randomly chosen registered voters interviewed last spring by Communica, a marketing firm hired by the district to measure perceptions of strengths and weaknesses of the district's performance.

Bill Grindell, president of the Columbus branch of Communica, presented the findings to the Worthington Board of Education at its Monday meeting. He presented similar findings following a survey two years ago.

His recommendations were to stay the course relative to communication in general but to enhance communication relative to finances and plans the district is exploring; test the idea of placing the district newsletter within the community newspaper, rather than having it delivered in a plastic bag; and look for grassroots ways to reach people who do not have children in the schools.

Of those interviewed, half had children in the district. Seventy percent of district households do not include Worthington school students, and that was reflected in weighted responses presented in the report....

Each respondent was asked to describe the Worthington school district. The most popular answer -- 44.2 percent -- was "good reputation in general." Other top answers were "great teachers and staff" and "diverse, well-balanced curriculum."

The top three greatest strengths were "highly qualified and dedicated teachers," "diverse curriculum," and "good administration and support staff."

Asked to name the biggest areas where the district could focus on improving, the top answer was "keep costs down," followed by "nothing," and "better quality of teachers who care about students."

Asked to compare the schools with other suburban districts, 65 percent said Worthington was better or much better.

Respondents gave the district an "A-" overall when asked for grades. The only "A" was in overall academic quality.

The lowest grade, a "B-" was given in financial management, but that was an improvement from the "C+" given by respondents in 2006.

Other improvements were in overall district management, technology, and communication with the community.

Asked how the district's performance had changed in the past twelve months, 21 percent said technology had improved, 20 percent said communication with the community had improved, and 20 percent said academic quality had improved. Only 11 percent said financial management had improved.

Approximately one-third of respondents said they read the superintendent's newsletters received in the past year. Approximately one-third said they did not receive the newsletter.

The newsletter is delivered in a plastic bag. Grindell said that more would read it if it were included with the community newspaper.

"I understand," said board member Julie Keegan. "If it is in a plastic bag, it's a coupon. I throw it away."

Local newspapers rated highly as a way of communicating with residents who do not have children in the schools, but those with children get most of their school news from e-mail.

Seventy-nine percent of those without children said they get their school information from local newspapers, compared to 37 percent of those with children. Of those with children in the schools, 56 percent get their information from e-mail, 37 percent from local papers.