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'Unaffiliated' parents need to get involved in ACS strategic planning

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing this as an Alton Central School parent in the hope of making sure that the other ACS parents are aware that there is an ACS Strategic Planning initiative underway. At an August 8, 2013, Alton Central School Board "workshop", much of the mid-term plans for ACS, including any renovations to the school buildings, was delegated to the created "strategic planning committee". They also voted to hire an external meeting facilitator, from another town, for a few thousand dollars. This planning committee was to consist of around 24 members consisting of: teachers, staff, administration, parents, community officials and community officers. At the workshop there was even a commitment of sorts that the first two meetings of this committee, with at least 24 members, would take place before September 2013. That, for reasons never disclosed, happened.
I, having attended the entire August workshop, volunteered to be on the committee. The first two meetings of this committee took place on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. As far as I can see, I was the only unaffiliated parent on the committee. I have yet to be able to obtain a list of all those who actually attended the meetings. Yes, from what I could see there were four other parents, but they all work for the school. I could be wrong, but a parent who is on the ACS payroll is likely to have different priorities and concerns than parents who are strictly parents. Plus, with every single member of the ACS administration and a school board member present, I am sure that they have to be very circumspect in what they say and do as committee members.
It just doesn't seem right that there is only one unaffiliated parent on the committee — when ironically the #1 objective discussed at the meetings seem to be "improving school-community relations"!
There is another meeting scheduled for Nov. 20. The timings of these meetings is not conducive for most parents. My husband and I addressed this, obviously unsuccessfully, at the workshop and tried to get them scheduled for hours that would work better for most parents.
I urge all ACS parents to make an effort to somehow get involved in this committee. What gets decided by this committee will get used in early 2014 when issues such as building renovation comes up. So please take this as a heads-up.

Deanna Gurugé