Parents make a difference

Feedback, fund-raising efforts drive changes at CMS

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More than 50 parents attended a Craig Middle School Parent Advisory Committee meeting in September. Since then, participation has dropped to 11.

Concerned parents gathered in September to discuss changes to the CMS discipline structure, but few stuck around to discover the outcome.

Those who did, though, were movers.

So far, PAC members have raised $1,000 that will be put toward the purchase of benches and activity equipment.

School Board and CMS PAC member Andrea Camp conceived the idea to raise funds without being a drain on community resources.

"I racked my brain to find a way to raise money without going door to door," Camp said.

What she came up with was the sale of T-shirts, sweat shirts and ball caps to students.

"I wanted a way for all kids to show school spirit," she said. "It's something for the kids who aren't in sports, too."

The money raised was given to the student council to determine how to spend it.

Fund-raising isn't a function of a school's parent advisory committee, though some take it on to finance special projects.

PACs are required by state statute to help school officials set goals and oversee a school's progress in meeting those goals, but traditionally the meetings are used as communication tools by parents and school officials.

"At this level, it's done as more of an information thing," CMS secretary Beth Gilchrist said. "A lot of good came from the first meeting."

The middle school's PAC meets every other month.

Principal Steve Wiersma said 11 members is an improvement on the six or eight members the group generally has.

"I think this is the most active and concerned group of parents I've seen so far," he said.

"Participation does generally fall off in middle school, I'm not sure why."

He credits a portion of the participation to the controversy that sprung up at the beginning of the school year after the school revised its code of conduct.

Changes have been made in response to parents' concerns, Wiersma said.

"Anytime you try something new, there are glitches to work out," he said. "(The new discipline system) has been effective, but it certainly could be more effective. There were some legitimate concerns at the beginning of the year."

School officials have made changes based on those concerns, Wiersma said.

More incentives have been offered to reward positive behavior.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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