School board members question CMS' Parent University
The CMS program called Parent University, is part of the district's 2010 strategic plan. The plan emphasizes parental involvement. It started in the fall. Topics ranged from ways to help a child with homework to writing a winning resume. Parent University's executive director Jerri Haigler told board members about 2,700 parents took the 31 classes that were offered. She said, "And we know that we need to be accountable. So we're looking at the parents who are attending and which schools their children attend. We'll be looking at whether we have moved the needle or not as far as parent involvement in those schools as well as student achievement." Haigler also noted that in its second semester, which started last month, there are more courses on offer. Board member Larry Gauvreau questioned some of the courses such as Hip Hop Culture, cooking classes and writing a resume. He said, "We're not at the point yet where almost half of the kids are reading on grade level. But we think we have to teach parents. And then we fill the catalog with hip hop culture stuff. We've just gone too far. And I would say close it down!" Gauvreau complained saying the program is a waste of tax payers dollars. Superintendent Peter Gorman shot back with a carefully worded thank you to the private corporations that fund the program. His wife Sue volunteers as the program's chief advocate. Gorman said parents hoping to better communicate with their kids requested the hip hop course. He calls the program "right on target." "Link it directly to reading? Some's tangential, but I tell you what, if we help a parent do a better job understanding their child, have more time for their child, be there for their child, I'm thrilled with what we do with that," he said. Other board members asked how program administrators would measure its effect on student achievement and whether these parents would have been involved with or without the program. Haigler says the program keeps data on every single parent who attends and there are plans to survey them in detail. She says they expect to have answers over the next year. Also at the board meeting, a school construction update showed several projects came in under budget by about $21 million. Plus a number of projects scheduled to be completed in 2010 won't be finished because the county placed a hold on issuing bonds.