Education and Early Childhood Development: Last Spring, I instructed my deptuy, Dr. Alex (Sandy) MacDonald to discuss this point with Superintendents at an Educational Leadership Team Meeting and I will ask him to follow up once again at the next meeting to be held later this month to ensure that boards address your request. It is my understanding that boards have been discussing this among themselves as well.
Eastern School District: The Eastern School Dristrict agrees that taking the necessary steps to protect our students and staff has resulted in protocols that some visitors to schools, including parents, may perceive as barriers. The intent of video surveillance, photo identification, ID visitor tags, and one entrance access is to make our schools safer for all. The unintendced result or perception is that our schools may now be more visitor/parent “unfriendly”.
The Eastern School District welcomes and values parent involvement as active partners in all schools. School staffs are continuously engageing and working with parents to make each child's educational experience a positive one. Schools presently have websites, newsletters, Tell Them From Me Parent surveys, Student's Achieve, School Councils or Home and School organizations, Meet The Teacher nights, information sessions and many other ways to foster communication with parents. However, with the above recent changes, we do see the value in working iwth the Western School Board in creating a meaningful set of guidelines and procedures so that parents have consistent, clear messages in terms of accessing school or Board personnel.
The Eastern School District and the Western School Board have been in contact and have agreed to meet in the near future to discuss and address the concerns expressed in Resolution 1.
Western School Board: Prodedures for developing and implementing school communications with parents are the responsibility of individual schools so as to respond to local needs and circumstances. Whether it be a school handbook, a regular newsletter, a web page, the establishment of Parent Councils/Home & School Associations or the opportunities for individual parents as partners in the delivery of educational services to children, each school undertakes to establish its own processes and vehicles for promoting effective two-way communication with its parents and local community.
In our opinion, this delegation of authority and autonomy to each school has worked well in our schools and thus we do not see a need for establishing “system” protocols. I would note that we do have a Board protocol for addressing issues identified by parents with repect to our schools or personnel that would see parents first approaching the classroom teacher and, if no resoution, the principal, the Director responsible for that school, the Superintendent, and, if still unresolved, the Board.
As a Board, we initiated a formal dialogue in October 2009 with Home & School/Parent Council representatives invited from every school to attend a “sharing” session with provincila HSF reps, principals, trustees, and Senior Management staff. This session proved very successful in allowing joint discussions of a number of relevant topics of mutual interest with our parent community and we are looking forward to this Saturday session becoming an annual event within our Board with tentative plans for the next session - Talking & Sharing Too - scheduled for December 4, 2010. We also have trustees who annually attend the H&S AGM as well as a number who attend local association meetings (ususally upon request of the specific association). Similarly, members of our Senior Management team have been invited to local H&S meetings and this is a welcome opportunity to share views and have discussions with parents.