Parent volunteers are a common sight in elementary level classrooms, and one the District Accountability Committee would like to see expanded to middle and high schools, as well as opened to community members who don't have children in the schools. Cultivating volunteer participation across the county, in traditional and non-traditional educational environments, was formally adopted as a priority by the Delta County School Board last week.
The charge to the District Accountability Committee was approved the night before the mass shooting in Connecticut, but even then school board members noted all volunteers must be fingerprinted and pass a background check.
Each school in the district has a School Accountability Committee which in turn appoints a representative to the District Accountability Committee. That committee meets once a month to analyze, advise and hold the school district accountable for its operations. Typically, the District Accountability Committee has provided input on the budget, discussed student achievement and shared activities and projects taking place in the individual schools. This year, chairman Matt Dare and the committee added volunteerism because they wanted a project that would be "fun, cool and helpful," Dare explained.
He worked with assistant superintendent Kurt Clay to formalize the wording in the charge, which sets out the school board's expectations for the school year.
"Administrators and teachers throughout the district recognize that volunteer support can enrich the educational experience by direct participation in the classroom or by relieving teachers of some administrative duties, allowing them to focus on children during the school day," the charge noted. "At the same time, it is well documented that volunteer participation is relatively low, particularly by members of the community who do not have school-aged children."
Through several brainstorming sessions, District Accountability Committees have talked about the steps they need to take to make the charge a reality. They plan to develop a volunteer database, provide training and identify a volunteer coordinator in each school, so there is one point of contact for both teachers and volunteers.
Those volunteers might listen to young students read, make copies, tutor a struggling math student, or talk about experiences which might relate to a subject the students are studying.
"In my daughter's classroom of 22 students, there is just one parent who volunteers," Dare noted. "It would be great if we could just double that number."
There are many older taxpayers in Delta County who have no personal investment in the schools, he added.
Volunteerism could be an excellent vehicle to get those people into the schools. They'd see the great things going on, and the next time a bond issue rolled around — in five years, 10 years — it would have a better chance of gaining voter approval.
School board members were enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged the District Accountability Committee to keep working on getting the program up and running.blog comments powered by Disqus