Moffat County schools seek involvement for committees

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A total of 506 students currently are enrolled at Moffat County High School. Yet at the school’s latest parental involvement meeting, only three parents showed up — a turnout that is considered average.

The group meetings have been known as Parent Advisory Councils in the past, and these days are referred to as School — or Parent — Accountability Committees.

Apparently, low turnout to parent/school meetings has become a district-wide trend.

Sarah Hepworth, principal of East Elementary School, said the attendance for SAC meetings for the 2012-13 school year rarely consisted of more than 10 parents, usually seeing the same four regulars.

“We’ve seen a drop in the past year with volunteerism, because that used to be super-high at East,” she said.

Hepworth said one of the focuses of East’s SAC — which had its first meeting of the school year Tuesday — is to determine why parental involvement is on the decline.

“We used to not even worry about the meetings when we had parents engaging in other ways,” she said. “We used to have a 98 percent attendance rate for parent-teacher conferences and 3,000 hours of volunteerism, but those numbers are dwindling now.”

The parents who are engaged are dedicated, Hepworth said, and a number of parents who can’t attend meetings in person will make it a point to get in touch with the school.

“Families are busier now more than ever, even just five years ago, and I think that’s part of the component,” she said. “One thing we’re trying to figure out is if our meeting time works for families and doesn’t interfere with soccer or hockey or basketball or T-ball or Doak Walker football.”

Hepworth said the abundance of extracurricular activities and sports may take too much priority for parents, especially those with children at multiple school levels.

SAC meetings in Craig see varied results in different schools.

The Sunset Elementary group saw about 30 people at its September meeting, said SAC President Becky Fritz.

“It’s usually the same people who come, and we’ve just got a lot of people who want to make the effort,” she said.

Fritz said the Sunset SAC has a lengthy email list to keep all parents updated, even if they’re not able to make it to meetings.

The activities at any school in the district range from handing out helpful information to help children get the best possible learning experience to actively planning school events.

Hepworth said she sees the relationship between parents and schools as a partnership, not just one supporting the other.

“When we have a problem, let’s solve it together, and when we have a success, let’s celebrate it together,” she said.

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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