School district seeks parental involvement

Education officials asking for feedback as important decisions loom

If you go

What: School District Accountability Committee meeting

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Yampa Building, 775 Yampa Ave.

Meeting schedule

Parent Advisory Committee meetings:

• Sunset Elementary — 7 p.m., second Tuesday of every month

• Ridgeview Elementary — 6 p.m., second Tuesday of every month

• Sandrock Elementary — 6:30 p.m., second Tuesday of every month

• East Elementary — 6 p.m., second Tuesday of the month

• Craig Middle School — 6:30 p.m., second Monday of the month

• Moffat County High School — 6 p.m., first Monday of each month

At a Parent Advisory Com­mittee meeting Tuesday night at Ridgeview Elementary School, a teacher asked some of the parents in attendance if she could use some money rasied by the school to buy her class whiteboards to work on math problems at their desks.

For Heidi Meats, mother of two Ridgeview students, the decision was a no-brainer.

“We hold school fundraisers, and we have funds we distribute to teacher requests,” Meats said. “We’d say, ‘Hey, that sounds like a great idea,’ as long as it involves student learning and heightens that learning.”

However, not every decision that comes up at the monthly PACs is as simple.

In upcoming months, PACs for each school in the Moffat County School District will discuss larger issues such as the trickle-down effect of looming state budget cuts and the potential rearranging of the school year calendar.

School district superintendent Joe Petrone said all of the structures are in place to facilitate parental involvement as the district works through these issues.

“I have a belief walking into it that parents want to get involved,” he said. “And I look at the strategies we have in place, and there are many, quite honestly.”

Each school hosts its own PAC meeting once a month to discuss school issues with parents and administrators.

A representative will then take the input from those meetings to the School District Accountability Committee, a body that acts as a liaison between the Moffat County School Board and parents.

Meats, who has been on the SDAC and involved in the PACs for two years, said attending the meetings is a good way to stay informed about her children’s education. She encouraged parents to find a way to get involved.

“I know we would like to see more parent involvement,” Meats said. “It can be hard to get involved, and I totally understand that all of us have lives and jobs and kids. It can become so overwhelming for parents. But I just encourage people to go to their PAC meetings and say, ‘Hey, I don’t like this,’ or ‘Hey, this is fine.’”

Petrone said the school district has made an effort this school year to re-emphasize the importance of parent involvement as some of the larger issues come into play this spring.

“The board of education is very committed to seeking input from their constituencies,” Petrone said. “It’s spelled out, it’s available and we invite them. All of us contribute to the direct success of children. We’re all collaborating together to work in the interest of our students.”

The school calendar, which is up for review this year, was changed three years ago to have a later start date in the fall and an earlier end date in the spring, while lengthening each day.

Petrone said the district is looking for input from parents on several possible options regarding start and end times, dates and break schedules.

Budget reductions are also a serious but timely issue, as the school district plans to release a preliminary template for potential cuts in February.

“We want to be able to hear what parents have to say on the plan and the process,” he said. “But also to be able to hear the actual decisions we come to, and give feedback on any recommendation on proposed budget reductions.”

But to get that input, both parent and administrator agreed on one thing.

“Go to the PAC meetings,” Meats said. “Every school has one. We need more bodies, and we need more ideas. Because of the budget cuts, we need more ideas on how they want the cuts to go. If they want bigger class sizes and less teachers, we want to know.”

Petrone added that parent involvement is a great resource for improving student learning and solidifying the relationship between the community and school district.

“Parents are the child’s first teacher and the most important,” Petrone said. “We all understand and know that. We know the importance of parent involvement and of their understanding of what we do.”

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