Dayton Public Schools will hold three more public town hall meetings this school year to open up dialogue with the community about how the district can improve.
The events are scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13, at Kiser Elementary; March 21 at Thurgood Marshall High School; and May 16 at Wright Brothers Elementary. All three events are scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
DPS leaders said they want this week’s town hall to focus on how the district and families can work together to improve educational outcomes for students.
“We really want to ask the parents and the family members … ‘What is it your expectation from us and what should we expect from you in return?’” Dayton school board member Jocelyn Rhynard said. “Everyone acknowledges we need more parent and community engagement. The issue is what does that look like?
“Some families have lots of time to give, some families have no time to give, some families have barriers to just knowing how to get involved,” she said.
The district is in the process of creating a consolidated parent and community engagement committee to seek opportunities to partner with the community and involve parents in the schools. A newly hired director of community engagement has worked this year to assess what programs are in the schools and what schools need.
A separate effort seeks to establish parent teacher organizations at all of the district’s 27 schools within three years.
All of this is aimed at improving the district’s performance. Dayton Public Schools is the lowest performing district in the state on standardized tests and faces state takeover if it gets an F on its next state report card in September 2019.
A previous town hall meeting at Dayton Boys Preparatory Academy in September focused on reactions to the school district’s strategic plan.
Angela Worley, an administrator with the DPS Engage Parents Facebook Group, attended the September meeting and said some parents don’t believe the district really listened to their feedback. She hopes that changes at the next forum.
“Honestly I am hoping to hear a concrete plan of action complete with a timetable as to when parental recommendations are to be implemented regarding our concerns,” she said in a recent interview. “There is a feeling that these type of meetings are more … appeasements for parents or more ‘optic’ driven, but there is no true intention of ever acting upon our suggestions or concerns.”
Specific areas of focus she hopes to see the board address are spending for things that don’t directly impact students, and teachers feeling overworked and under-appreciated.
“We absolutely understand there is pressure as it relates to a possible state takeover however now is when we should all work together instead of against each other,” she said.
DPS school board President William Harris said they absolutely want to engage and work with parents and families.
“We know we can’t make it as a district without the support of our parents,” he said. “Their feedback is very critical and important to us.”