AUBURN — When it comes to education changes, a recent survey of Auburn teachers shows a majority of those responding think the School Department is heading in the wrong direction.

Also, 71 percent said they don’t believe the administration understands and appreciates the work they do every day.

Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin and School Committee Chairman Tom Kendall reacted Tuesday to the survey.

“I wish to assure the community (that) the school board and administration are always receptive to comments and suggestions of how to improve educational outcomes for Auburn children,” Kendall said. All teachers have multiple ways to provide feedback, he added. 

The survey was taken in late January and early February by the Auburn teachers’ union, the Auburn Education Association, President Carl Bucciantini said.

Of the city’s 300 teachers, 160 are in the union. Of the 160, 104 responded to the survey, Bucciantini said.


The idea for the survey came up during recent failed labor negotiations, Bucciantini said. Citing problems with the administration over trust, “it got us thinking that maybe our perception (of trust) was wrong. We decided to ask teachers.”

The questions hit nerves.

Bucciantini said he was surprised by the depth of dissatisfaction.

“I have 57 pages of comments,” he said. “Another thing (that) amazed me was the passion, how seriously people took it.”

Patterns that emerged include:

• Trust: 61 percent said they don’t trust that they can share their opinion of a new program without fear of being labeled negative.


• Job satisfaction: 55 percent said they’d take a job in another school department if given the opportunity.

“Some said they wouldn’t leave,” Bucciantini said. “Reasons included, ‘I’m too near retirement,’ ‘I live here,’ ‘I like my commute’ or ‘My heart’s in Auburn.’ Several said it wouldn’t be different anywhere else. A few said, ‘I fully believe in Auburn,'” Bucciantini said. “There are some positives.”

One respondent said he or she feels “unseen, unappreciated, that my expertise in my field is ignored in favor if implementing a poorly planned method of differentiating instruction that ignores students’ emotional and developmental needs.”

Another said: “‘What makes me unhappy is not having a district administration and school board that understands the demands put upon the classroom teachers, and that this has greatly impacted our morale.”

Bucciantini said he hopes the survey leads to talks that solve the labor contract dispute.

Beyond contract talks, he said he’d like to see meaningful dialogue between teachers and administration.


“They talk to us, but they don’t listen,” he said.

Grondin said she’s reading pages of what teachers had to say and will go over the survey with administrators “to make sure that teachers are feeling if they have ideas, they could be supported.”

Multiple changes and mandates from the federal, state and Auburn School Department — from proficiency-based diplomas to new teacher evaluations — are making teaching more challenging, Grondin said.

“We know people are stressed,” Grondin said. “We do try to respond to that. We care about our people. They are our most valuable asset. We want to make sure they are getting the support they need.”

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