Parent club aims to get parents active

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GILROY
– Defining itself as a communication source, and not a
fund-raising entity, for Gilroy High is how the campus’ parent club
hopes to increase school-wide parental involvement.
GILROY – Defining itself as a communication source, and not a fund-raising entity, for Gilroy High is how the campus’ parent club hopes to increase school-wide parental involvement.

That idea was among others generated Tuesday night at the monthly meeting of the GHS Parent Club which drew roughly 15 people.

“There were a lot of good ideas brought up,” said Debbie Elston, co-president of the GHS Parent Club. “But there’s no question we have to draw more parents.”

As many as 100 parents attended meetings held last spring.

About 200 parents have signed up to receive e-mail updates on Parent Club activities. The high school has more than 2,100 students. The club also sends out a newsletter to the homes of GHS parents and publishes it on the high school’s Web site at www.gilroyhighschool.com.

Elston and fellow co-president Diane Baty said one way to draw more parents is to make sure they know parent club meetings will be forums to get questions answered and concerns addressed.

“We want to make it clear this is not a fund-raising group,” said Baty. “We want to remain an information source.”

Parents supported a club focus on school and educational issues, rather than fund-raising.

“So many parents are in booster clubs already,” Elston said.

Parents also expressed interest in having student representatives attend the club’s sessions. Student reps could both answer parent questions regarding the high school as well as express their views and concerns on various issues.

Elston said she liked an idea brought forward by GHS Assistant Principal Greg Camacho-Light at last month’s Parent Club session. Camacho-Light suggested the group’s monthly session be attended by representatives from as many campus clubs and organizations as possible. That way, parents could be assured of having a face-to-face contact with those who could address their concerns.

Elston said Tuesday night’s group did not support the representative format, but parents agreed that Parent Club meetings should be scheduled to not conflict with other events in the district.

Baty said Tuesday night’s session did not yield a high turnout of Spanish-speaking families, a group the club tried to appeal to last year.

“There’s not a large Hispanic presence and that’s still an issue,” Baty said. “I’d love to see more involvement from the Hispanic community.”

Last year Elston and Baty were among three parents paid $6,000 each, by way of an Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program grant, to rekindle interest in the club. It was part of a district-wide effort to increase parental involvement at schools.

Under the grant, the paid parents arranged a staff appreciation day, worked in the office to get standardized tests prepared, hosted an open house, and called parents of sophomores to arrange meetings with student counselors regarding graduation requirements, Baty said.

This year, Elston and Baty are spending less time on campus, focusing instead on the overall direction of the club and its monthly meetings. They are the club’s only officers and they work for free.

The group’s next meeting will be Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in the GHS library.

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