Schools seek opinion for involvement study
By Brielle Schaeffer, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: November 22, 2012
School district officials want opinions from parents and others in the community about how to improve school involvement.
The process will include two public meetings in coming weeks.
One of Teton County School District No. 1’s goals is to increase community involvement, Superintendent Pam Shea said.
“We know the research is solid on this,” Shea said. “When you have both parents and community involvement in your schools, at the end of the day it can support growth and student achievement and success in schools.”
The district hired consultant Susan Eriksen-Meier, of Jackson, to create a website for the project and coordinate public comments and action plan recommendations, Shea said. Eriksen-Meier is being paid about $12,000 for her work over several months.
“It’s better for us as a district,” Shea said. “We can be participants in what we think we need to prioritize and focus on.”
The project will follow the six types of school involvement identified by Joyce Epstein of John Hopkins University, Eriksen-Meier said. Epstein, nationally known for her work in schools, has found the best predictor of family involvement in schools is what schools do to promote their involvement. More involvement, she teaches, results in improved student achievement, better behavior and more satisfied parents.
“The district is accountable for what it’s doing, and they want to make sure children succeed,” Eriksen-Meier said. The survey is a way to “evaluate to make sure we’re doing everything that’s best for the kids.”
The project began a month ago with each school working on an “involvement inventory,” Eriksen-Meier said.
“Each school has such a separate culture,” she said. “We can’t just say, ‘What’s community involvement in the schools look like?’ ”
The information will be combined with public comments to come up with recommendations. Eriksen-Meier will hold two sessions at which people can submit their opinions. The first is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Teton County commissioners’ chambers. The second is set for 4 to 5 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse.
Comment is also being taken online at www.schoolinvolvement.org
“This project needs to learn from you, regardless of your role,” the website says. “Whether you are a student, parent, past student, business owner, teacher or simply a Teton County resident, your observation or idea could be the one that really makes a difference.”
“This is not a needs assessment,” Eriksen-Meier said. “The intent of this form is if there’s people out there interested in something to say, this is a way to do it.”
The district is accepting comment until Jan. 15. After that, Eriksen-Meier will make recommendations for each school for the next two years.