, Gloucester, MA

June 18, 2013

Letter: School officials need more parents' input

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Schools work best when there is collaboration and an exchange of ideas among parents, citizens, and administration.

The most successful school systems have very involved and supportive parents, who do not just raise money for important programs, but also add respectful insight and accountability to those who make the decisions.

Two great examples of the importance of the collaboration among the Gloucester School Committee, the superintendent, and the community occurred this past week.

Last Tuesday night, was a public hearing on next year’s city budget. Two members of the School Committee, via letters to the editor, asked parents to step forward to speak to city council members about garnering badly needed funding to maintain the education which currently exists in the Gloucester Public Schools.

In response, parents spoke during the hearing about the financial needs of the GPS, and the city council responded by providing not just the necessary funding, but more than was actually asked for by the School Committee.

Additionally, at the School Committee meeting on June 12, 2013, before a presentation regarding the universal breakfast program set to be instituted at Beeman and Veterans’ Elementary schools in September, many parents spoke directly to the School Committee regarding their varied concerns on the topic. The School Committee and Superintendent listened very closely and promised to review the potential negative impact on instructional time over the summer, before making the decision to pilot this program.

These are the best possible examples of the need for parental input and collaboration between elected officials and community members, and the positive outcome when elected officials listen to concerned and involved parents.

Members of our School Committee demonstrated over the past week that they are truly ready, willing, and able to listen to the public. Further, they recognized that it is their duty, as a committee, to seek out the input of parents.

The responsibility falls on the schools and school committee to reach out to citizens, engage us by sharing possible options to improve instruction in our schools while meeting the needs of all students. Regular communication is vital to improving and encouraging parental involvement.

We urge every citizen of Gloucester, when concerned about an educational issue, to step forward and voice your concerns and feel confident that your thoughts are not only respected, but vital, to the improving of instruction in our schools. The committee reasserted its commitment to listening to parents and treating them with respect in return. Our administration needs to hear from parents on a regular basis to ensure that decisions made are done so with all possible information and insight.

Our schools will only improve by continued participation in the public conversation. We also want to urge the members of the School Committee to continue to find new ways to reach out to parents, whether through the newspaper, social media, or direct e-mails to let parents know what is ongoing at the administrative level.

Gloucester children deserve the best we can give to them; and we can work together to make that happen.