“Parents United and the Salem Education Foundation decided to give parents here an opportunity or venue to talk about these concerns, because (parents) are feeling they are not getting enough (information) from the district, and we feel pretty confident if they give the schools a chance, they will be happy here.”
If nothing else, the two groups hope new parents will benefit from talking to mothers and fathers who have children in the school system. Sometimes, it is as simple as reassuring parents that they shouldn’t panic if they don’t get their first choice for kindergarten, Schild said.
Last year, the “hot” school for many parents was Carlton Elementary School, one of the state Innovation Schools, according to Schild. She knows parents who weren’t able to get their children into Carlton and were worried because they had to “settle” for second choices. In most cases, those worries proved unfounded.
“You talk to them now, and they love Horace Mann School, and they love Witchcraft Heights School,” she said.
Katie Casiglia, a parent who ran unsuccessfully for School Committee, said these information sessions are important. A lot of parents are following the school system closely, at all levels, she said.
“They are very keenly watching to see the direction the school system is going,” she said. “It’s impacting me because I’m thinking ahead. I’m already thinking ahead to what we are going to do when we cross that (middle school) bridge.”
At the meeting last week Parents United and the Education Foundation wrote down questions and concerns to pass along to school officials. They also plan another meeting next month.
One goal is to find out how young parents want to be informed: social media, school websites, small meetings or larger community forums.
The School Department is making plans now for a parent information night this winter and welcomes suggestions from these two groups and others, Russell said.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.