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Students and stats come to council

May 16, 2012

    Students and statistics were on the agenda for Decatur City Council on Tuesday night, thanks to the Bellmont High School statistics class.
    Spurred by a meeting with Mayor John Schultz and local resident Larry Isch last January, the 14 students in Kent Arnold's class surveyed students in the fifth through 12 grades at Bellmont middle and high schools.
    The class sought to compliment the comprehensive plan study the city did a couple of years ago through the efforts of the Wightman Petrie firm of Elkhart. In fact, the company helped the student organize the survey, Arnold said.
    By surveying young people, it was noted, this study provided a different perspective. As Councilman Cam Collier pointed out, a previous study on what was needed to keep young people in Northeast Indiana polled only adults.
    "We have no intent to ask for any action, nor ask you to spend any money," Arnold said, the latter of which drew considerable laughter.
    The students' effort began in January with classroom planning and continued through these last days of the school year. A total of 1,033 students returned their poll questions. Responses were gained from 160 juniors, 157 sophomores, 157 freshmen, 139 seventh graders, 134 seniors, 102 sixth graders and 66 fifth graders.
    The driving question, student Michael Miller told council, was, "What one thing would make Decatur a better place to live?
    Of those responding, 549 were males and 489 females, student Kyle Smith explained. Six hundred and 55 of them resided within Decatur and 369 did not.
    Asked what would make Decatur a better place, 48 percent of the students said a movie theatre. Other percentages were as follows: 4.9%, a mall; 4.4%, a putt-putt facility, 4%, a Buffalo Wild Wings; 3.1%, a go-kart facility; 35.6%, other.
    Using a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree, the following three questions received the average shown:
    "Decatur is a good place to live"; 3.4.
    "I would want to live in Decatur as an adult"; 2.6.
    "There are enough recreational activities in Decatur"; 2.2.
    "You did a good job," the mayor told Arnold, then looked at the students on hand and added: "You are our future."
    He recommended that the survey results be placed with those for the comprehensive plan.

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