A central Kenai Peninsula group is counting on students to help them find the answers.
The Community Action Coalition says it needs 80 percent of the students to participate in a survey in order to obtain meaningful statistical data.
Called the Prevention Needs Assessment, the survey is expected to provide a better understanding of the perceptions peninsula youth have regarding how the community supports their healthy development; information about how peninsula youth handle peer pressure to use alcohol, tobacco or drugs; and data that will help the community evaluate what it is doing right and what areas need fixing.
With only a week remaining before the survey date, nearly all sixth-graders have returned required parental permission slips, but eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders are lagging behind.
As of Wednesday, the re-turn rate for permission slips from the upper grades was between 28 and 30 percent, according to Marilyn Jackson, CAC project director.
“We have to have over 50 percent to have a solid statistical base,” Jackson said, adding that any number of students participating in the survey will be more than what the group already has.
Alaska requires written parental permission in order for students to participate in the surveys, which will be conducted Wednesday in central peninsula schools.
Permission slips were sent home with students Jan. 25, and are due back Friday.
Additional slips may be clipped out of the newspaper or printed from the CAC Web site at www.kpcac.org.
Participating are Kenai Central, Nikiski, Skyview and Soldotna high, Kenai and Soldotna middle and Soldotna, Sterling, Tustumena, Re-doubt, Kalifornsky Beach and Nikiski North Star elementary schools.
Also participating are the Kenai Peninsula Youth Facility School, Aurora Borealis Charter School, Kenai Alternative School and Connections for home-schooled children.
As incentives to have children return signed permission slips, CAC is offering a Blockbuster video certificate to each student who brings one back, and students and parents are entered into a drawing for $100 Fred Meyer gift certificates.
School classes also are entered into a drawing for a pizza party.
CAC treasurer Paul Brenner said the Blockbuster cards were distributed to all the schools this week, and he said he believes that when students start seeing other students with the Blockbuster cards, they will want to get one, too.
Speaking of the good returns from sixth-graders, Brenner said the younger students “tend to be more compliant.”
He said sixth-grade teachers know who their pupils are and can encourage their compliance.
Brenner said solid data received through the assessments “will allow us to bring federal dollars back into the community through grants that require objective data.”
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