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Parent Advisory Committee: A district wide communication tool

Like the children’s game of telephone, critical school district messaging sometimes get garbled when it filters through the region’s 11 geographically distinct school sites. To address this communication conundrum, Superintendent Steve Jennings established the Parent Advisory Committee, which joins parent representatives of each of the schools together once a month.

“The committee is a great communication tool,” says Jennings, who hosted the first meeting in October 2008. “It’s a way for parents at the school sites to have access to the superintendent to share thoughts and offer suggestions. Plus, it’s an opportunity for me to get the parents’ perspective on each school site.”

Jennings explains it’s a win-win situation, as he is able to offer important school district information to parents, and in turn, the parents provide valuable in-the-trenches input to him.

“It can be a great sounding board,” he says. “It represents one more channel for information to flow.”

Jennings says the shear distance between the individual school sites can inhibit effective school district communication. According to two parent representatives, the committee has already made great strides in closing the communication gap.

“It’s great to have direct contact with the superintendent,” comments Carla Brown, a Truckee Elementary School parent. “Plus, it gives parents an opportunity to find out what’s going on at other schools. It’s really interesting to hear how other school sites deal with such issues as nutrition and fundraising.”

Brown says she recently reported back to PTO members at Truckee Elementary School.

“Everyone was very appreciative to hear what Steve’s doing for the school at the district level,” Brown notes.

Tahoe Lake Elementary School parent Kelli Twomey shares Brown’s sentiments.

“It’s great to have face time with the superintendent and to learn about the different facets and challenges of the district from different perspectives,” Twomey says.

Twomey says the committee, with its 11 school site representatives, is a way to look at these challenges with a broader vision. Additionally, key district staffers, such as Director of Transportation Nanette Rondeau, are invited to the meetings as guest speakers.

In the pursuit of better district-wide communication, Jennings says he’d also like to establish a business advisory committee, as well as a student advisory committee.


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