Bored and uninformed

Parents unschooled when it comes to Board of Education decisions

Although+parents+support+education+at+the+school+level+through+donating+and+volunteering%2C+few+parents+stay+informed+of+the+decisions+the+Fayette+County+Board+of+Education+makes.+Starr%E2%80%99s+Mill%E2%80%99s+parents+are+finding+little+time+or+motivation+to+keep+up+with+important+FCBOE+updates+leaving+some+wondering+what+exactly+is+going+on+at+the+FCBOE+level.
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Bored and uninformed

Although parents support education at the school level through donating and volunteering, few parents stay informed of the decisions the Fayette County Board of Education makes. Starr’s Mill’s parents are finding little time or motivation to keep up with important FCBOE updates leaving some wondering what exactly is going on at the FCBOE level.

Although parents support education at the school level through donating and volunteering, few parents stay informed of the decisions the Fayette County Board of Education makes. Starr’s Mill’s parents are finding little time or motivation to keep up with important FCBOE updates leaving some wondering what exactly is going on at the FCBOE level.

Katie Linkner

Although parents support education at the school level through donating and volunteering, few parents stay informed of the decisions the Fayette County Board of Education makes. Starr’s Mill’s parents are finding little time or motivation to keep up with important FCBOE updates leaving some wondering what exactly is going on at the FCBOE level.

Katie Linkner

Katie Linkner

Although parents support education at the school level through donating and volunteering, few parents stay informed of the decisions the Fayette County Board of Education makes. Starr’s Mill’s parents are finding little time or motivation to keep up with important FCBOE updates leaving some wondering what exactly is going on at the FCBOE level.

Caylee Cicero, Staff Writer

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Parents are constantly roaming the Mill before and after school, volunteering around the building, and assisting at practices and meetings. Support is evident in the large amount of parents who attend sporting events and donate to booster clubs. Parents stay involved here at Starr’s Mill, but parents may not actually be staying up to date with what’s happening at the county level.   

Which of the following do you use most to stay informed of FCBOE decisions?

  • Listen to Board podcasts (0%, 0 Votes)
  • PTSO newsletter (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Attend Board meetings (20%, 1 Votes)
  • The Prowler online newspaper (20%, 1 Votes)
  • None of the above (20%, 1 Votes)
  • Starr's Mill High School website (40%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

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The Fayette County Board of Education is frequently implementing new decisions that affect both Starr’s Mill students and parents. After talking to parents, including those leading the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Organization, most aren’t finding the time to stay on top of the Board’s work.

Most parents say that their schedule does not permit them to go to the FCBOE meetings for lack of time. Some focus on only going to meetings they thought were very relevant and important to themselves. “If there’s something going on [at a FCBOE meeting] that I feel is important to listen to or speak about then I’ll go to that meeting,” Starr’s Mill PTSO president and parent Lara Dial said.   

At a typical FCBOE meeting, only about four to five parents from the whole county attend. At meetings where major topics such as redistricting or closings are discussed those numbers skyrocket. FCBOE assembles on school nights making them difficult for parents to attend.

Due to the fact that the majority of parents can’t and don’t attend FCBOE meetings, the board provides an overview and a podcast of them online. Updates are usually announced on the home screen of the board’s website. While more parents check the board’s website regularly, almost none were aware that the meetings were available via podcast. The few parents who were knowledgeable about the podcasts described them as tedious to listen to. “No, [I don’t listen to FCBOE podcasts] because to be honest [FCBOE podcasts] are boring to listen to,” Starr’s Mill parent Kathy Turner said.

Parents are keeping informed with FCBOE information that affects their tax dollars. Most parents know the basics of the board generated Education Special Location Option Sales Tax. ESPLOST mainly funds technology, equipment upgrades, and renovations, but it can also be put toward school bus purchases and retiring bond debt.

Parents revealed Starr’s Mill involvement in spreading ESPLOST information helped keep them knowledgeable about its purpose. Even though the Mill’s parents were prepared for the past ESPLOST voting, voter turnout was again low. Approximately 22.3 % of Fayette County’s registered voters voted. However, the numbers did increase from the initial ESPLOST vote last March where only 11,100 voters turned out.

Much of the Mill’s parents admitted to relying on Starr’s Mill’s website or Infinite Campus for the updates feeling they would provide them with only the information really needed. Multiple parents suggested that if they don’t have a current issue with the school system there is little to no reason for them to be concerned with updates. “I only really check [the FCBOE website] when I have a question or concern,” Starr’s Mill parent Maria Algaze said.

We value parent input highly, as well as student feedback in many decisions.”

— Board of Education representative Brian Anderson

Although parents may not be worried about not receiving FCBOE updates, some are apprehensive in putting their trust in the Board. While the majority of parents are often confident with the Board’s ability to make the best decisions for the school system, others are concerned with how serious parent input was actually taken.

One even proposed attending meetings was pointless because FCBOE wouldn’t consult their opinions in making the questioned decision. “I do not attend Board meetings because they usually interfere with family evening activities and the school Board rarely listens to parents. I’ve seen the school Board send out surveys and not listen to results if it doesn’t agree with their agenda,” a Starr’s Mill parent who requested to remain anonymous said.

In contrast to the parents that feel their opinions aren’t being heard, the Board members think they take importance in community parents’ input. “We value parent input highly, as well as student feedback in many decisions. While they are not the only factor that influences how we vote, they are truly important to each board member,” Starr’s Mill’s district board member Brian Anderson said in response to these allegations.

Anderson later explained he personally reaches out to “a few dozen parents from different schools/grade levels, plus administrators and teachers across the county” before he votes on an issue. He also thoroughly researches the subject and “strongly considers parent feedback” on issues directly affecting students or schools. The more parents who reach out to the Board the better they can evaluate parent opinion as a whole.

“Parents or other citizens that show up and speak at Board meetings are able to drive more attention to their issue. A small group of parents can come and speak at Board meetings and really make a difference,” Anderson said. Parents who really desire to make an impact on a decision can take up the opportunity to express their opinions at a meeting or email or call a Board member.

Dial also uses the PTSO to encourage parents, especially those within the organization, to keep up with the Board’s actions.“Starr’s Mill’s parents should stay informed [with FCBOE] because these are decisions that affect our children. Even after my youngest daughter graduates, I plan to remain involved [with FCBOE] as we all should because this is our community,” Dial said.

“As a Board member and a parent of four children in Fayette County Schools, I strongly believe it is important for parents to stay up to date on Board agenda items and decisions. If parents don’t know what is going on at the Board level, they miss the opportunity to influence future decisions and ensure their viewpoints are heard,” Anderson said. Parents have to stay involved with FCBOE if they want decisions to fare their way. Staying informed is a parent responsibility that not only benefits themselves and their children, but that will affect the families passing through the system in the future.

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