Last night had about 50-60 attendees and I thought it went well. I want to thank the district for putting forth the effort to involve parents and I hope the future nights (January 5th, March 3rd, May 4th) will be as well presented and received.
I think the district had a successful event last night for several reasons.
- It was advertised well in advance with fliers and phone calls
- Childcare was provided – Our Caitlin and Riley and many other children had a great time!
- The topics covered were important to parents. They included:
- The Parent Academy
- District Education Plan
- Title 1 criteria
- Professional Development – Staff Training
- Benchmarks and Assessments
- Special Education Advisory Committee
- School Site Council Training
- District English Language Advisory Committee
The general session was about an hour long and focused on the development of a District Education Plan. The plan will plan spending what little discretionary funds survived the state budget cuts. Each member of the audience was asked to provide input on which areas were important to them and they were encouraged to provide additional comments. We were told the district would use this input to guide the development of their spending plan for the next several years.
After the general session, we separated into smaller breakout sessions. My wife and I attended the GATE session presented by Assistant Superintendent Maureen Latham. We learned the funding for the GATE program, and about 12 other programs, for the next few years will be swept into the district’s general fund to support core curriculum. These dozen programs will be eliminated or severely reduced in Beaumont. There are a few district wide GATE nights planned this year but no individual site programs will be funded by the district this year or next.
Mrs. Latham was asked about the Redlands school district’s ability to continue to support many of their programs and she educated us about the Redlands Educational Partnership Foundation (REP) which provides funding for their programs. Many of Redlands’ special programs are fee based. She indicated the GATE program in Redlands may cost parents as much as $500 a year. Here is a link to REP’s web site: http://www.rep4schools.com/ . Mrs. Latham indicated a community member in Beaumont is starting a campaign to build something similar here. I volunteer my services towards this effort.
For our programs to continue in BUSD, the financial support will need to come from the parents and community. This is why it becomes even more important for parents to come together and get involved. I want to again acknowledge that last night was a good start for the district’s parent involvement efforts but there is still much more they should do. I again ask the district to sit down with parents and develop a district wide Parent Involvement Policy and encourage the sites to develop similar parent supported policies. I’d also like to see the district modernize their communication network by adding a district wide parent email network and/or RSS feed.
I’d like to encourage anyone else who attended last night’s event to leave a comment. It would be good to hear from someone attending one of the other breakout sessions.