One way a parent might be involved in their child’s education is by being their biggest cheerleader and their loudest advocator, but sometimes the parents might feel distant from those making policy.
That’s where the Parents Group helps.
Created by Douglas County School District parents Jill Mayer, Markus Zinke and Stephanie Christensen, the Parents Group bridges the gap between the Douglas County School Board and parents.
“We realize how difficult it is for parents to attend the meetings in person and many of them aren’t even aware of the items and issues that are being discussed,” said Mayer.
Douglas County School Board trustees meet 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Airport Training Center, 1126 Airport Road, Building G-1.
Implemented before the February school board meeting, the group was created to provide parents a more convenient way to review, understand and voice their thoughts, opinions and concerns on school board items through a survey.
“Some may be housekeeping items that we provide background and information for, more as an FYI for parents,” said Mayer. “While other items may be more contentious. With those, we try our best to give unbiased arguments for and against each item along with background information. It is not our intention to persuade the parents in any way. We strictly want to provide information so they can share their own opinions, thoughts and concerns regarding each item.”
The survey results and parent comments are then shared with the school board trustees prior to the meeting and a representative from the group is present during the meeting to share the results with the public.
Zinke, who has a middle school and high school student in the district, said he looks at the parent group as a means for parents to be heard on their individual needs.
“I look at it like a parent with kids in the schools and from the point of view of my own kids,” said Zinke. “My opinion, thoughts and concerns are going to be different from a teacher’s, a board member or anyone else. My concern is my kids. It is important to know what the parents and students actually want and need.”
Christensen said it’s a manner of ensuring those in charge will make the right decisions in what they do.
“Some of them (School Board members) don’t or have never had students in our district, they may not know everything that is going on,” said Christensen. “I’m not saying they would make bad decisions because of that, but I would hope that they would want what we give them and use it or at least let us present it and give the parents a chance to be heard.”
By making the surveys available, the group hopes it will encourage more parents to be involved and speak up.
“It’s not easy to go, I get it,” said Christensen. “Those meetings are like five hours long, and for me, I have five kids there is no way I can be there for that long.”
Stephanie has students in high school, middle school and elementary school.
“I am highly involved, and I do my best to be, but it’s unrealistic for me to be there all the time,” she said. “We want this group to be that bridge for parents.”
So far, the group has more than 200 parents signed up to receive surveys but are hoping it continues to grow.
“We have parents with students at all levels in the district from elementary to high school and all are welcome,” said Mayer. “We realize that every parent has different backgrounds, beliefs and values and we want to open it up to any parent in the district because it is important to hear all sides and that’s what we are trying to provide, is the opportunity for those differences to be heard.”
For more information and to sign up start receiving surveys visit https://dcsdparents.com/