by Robyn Kravitz
On September 18, Board Member K. Alexander Wallace hosted an inaugural Education Roundtable discussion for stakeholders from District 7. Attendants included parents from Wise High School, Imagine Morningside, Benjamin D. Foulois CPAA, Overlook Spanish Immersion, Bradberry Heights, and Arrowhead, along with District 7 residents, educators, and administrators.
Mr. Wallace shared that his job as a board of education member has three pillars — policy, budget, and community engagement. He hopes that this roundtable will be an ongoing tradition for District 7 residents that will help him with all three pillars. To drive the point home, Mr. Wallace has scheduled the next roundtable meeting for November 27, 6:30pm at Drew Freeman Middle School. After some quick introductions, the meeting was a true roundtable experience. Folks shared concerns and brainstormed potential solutions. Most points related to two different topics: communications and investment in PGCPS.
Many folks raised concerns about communications and consistency. Different schools –and even teachers within a given school — use various tools to communicate with families. The idea that came out of the meeting was that a policy could be created requiring principals to release information to parents that clearly laying out the ways in which the school will communicate with families. There wasn’t a strong preference for one communication tool, just a strong desire for a consistent tool choice (i.e., ClassDojo, SchoolMax, Gov Delivery, text message, etc.). This idea resonated strongly with the room. It felt like a compromise that would give a principal the freedom to decide with method works best for their school but also provide transparency and a clear directive, so families know exactly where to look for communications.
The second theme that presented itself across many different individual topics was the question of how to show the children of PGCPS that the district is investing in them. A few of the ideas discussed were more arts integration, having capital improvement projects that make a good school great, spending more time on education and less time prepping for tests and creating a well-shared Continuity of Operations Plan. The parents are looking to rebuild trust in PGCPS and felt that projects that are positive and proactive, rather than reactive, will be a concrete way to show that PGCPS is truly investing in the children.
Overall, this model for receiving feedback was well received by the District 7 stakeholders in the room. The agenda was light and genuinely led by the discussion that was organically created. If your Board of Education member does not host a roundtable discussion group or similar event, try reaching out and asking for one.