Spokane School Board members made good on a promise to do more listening Monday night, but only about 50 people showed up to bend the board’s ears.
Several parents said they want to become more involved in decisions at schools, but are frustrated by the reluctance of school staff to cooperate.
“Things don’t look like they are changing,” complained Tom Higgins, a North Side parent.
Board members said they want to enhance parent involvement, but it will take more time to get principals and teachers used to a different way of working with parents and the public.
“I know this board is totally committed to parent involvement,” said board member Carol Wendle. “We believe parent involvement is absolutely vital.”
The district has embarked on a program to increase the visibility and authority of parent groups in 25 schools, most of which are elementary schools.
The board is backing the program with a $157,000 budget to pay for consultants and substitute teachers while regular teachers are trained in building new relationships with parents.
“We have a lot of faith in the parents of our community,” said Jeannette Faulkner a North Side resident, who supports strong parental involvement.
Monday’s forum at North Central High School was held so that board members could get reactions from community members on the direction of Spokane schools.
Similar forums were held in 1993 and 1994, and led to the development of a strategic long-range plan.
Board President Rob Fukai said he wants to continue hearing from parents and the public so schools can respond to the community’s changing needs.
Some of those at the forum said they want schools to use taxpayer money wisely.
“No one can say we aren’t throwing plenty of money at education,” said South Hill resident George McGrath. “We have a right to expect an educated student body.”