Socorro Schools get parent approval

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Socorro School Associate Superintendent Anton Salome’s report on a school district-wide survey served as centerpiece of the March 26 Socorro School Board meeting.

Salome’s presentation covered an ongoing assessment of parent activity and a survey of local employers as to what skills they seek in future employees. The survey focused on how the district is addressing six key goals: home life and study, communication, parent volunteering, family friendly learning, parental involvement and community building.

“Is there any way we can improve the numbers?” asked School Board Secretary Dawn Weaver, referring to the total of 315 responses. “How about completing this at parent-teacher conferences?”

Salome said that in addition to online access, all students were given a hard copy to take home.

“We’ve done a lot and there’s a lot more to do, but this gives us critical information,” he said.

Parents in the six schools of the district gave the following ratings, averaged to give an overall picture. Individual school responses can be found on the district website.

Below is a summary of their answers, based on a survey return rate of 11 percent.

Home life and study

In the first goal, parents were asked if they felt Socorro Consolidated Schools assisted families in creating home environments to support children as students.

  • Socorro High School — 70 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Sarracino Middle School — 77 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Zimmerly — 75 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Parkview — 89 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • San Antonio Elementary — 82 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Midway Elementary — 85 percent rated SCS as good or excellent

The majority asked for more workshops or information on child or adolescent development. Some parents requested training and assistance for all families, not just those who may have the time or ability to come to on site meetings, and also expressed support for home visiting programs.

Establishing parent-to-parent discussion groups that could feed recommendations to the district were also suggested.

Communication

The second goal focused on communication, assessing the effectiveness of strategies to connect parents and SCS concerning school programs and children’s progress.

  • Socorro High School — 70 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Sarracino Middle School — 77 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Zimmerly — 75 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Parkview — 89 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • San Antonio Elementary — 97 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Midway Elementary — 87 percent rated SCS as good or excellent

Salome said the district was “on target” with reaching out to families and students all through the academic year. One example listed was that folders of student work are sent weekly or monthly for parent review and comment.

Parent Volunteering

The third question asked parents to rate the district in encouraging volunteering.

  • Socorro High School — 70 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Sarracino Middle School — 80 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Zimmerly — 70 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Parkview — 88 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • San Antonio Elementary — 94 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Midway Elementary — 83 percent rated SCS as good or excellent

The district offers annual surveys to identify interests, talents and availability of parents. Those parents will ideally then be matched to the right class and activity. Parents also suggested a dedicated family room for volunteers, and flexible volunteering opportunities and schedules for working parents.

Family friendly learning

The fourth item asked parents to weigh in on how the district supports families in helping with homework and other curriculum related activities, decisions and planning.

  • Socorro High School — 70 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Sarracino Middle School — 78 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Zimmerly — 75 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Parkview — 88 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • • San Antonio Elementary — 95 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Midway Elementary — 78 percent rated SCS as good or excellent

According to Salome, the district’s outreach provides information to parents on how to assist students with skills that they need to improve. Specifically, math, reading and comprehension skills are emphasized, and families are assisted in helping their children set and reach academic goals.

Parental Involvement

The fifth area asked parents their opinion on their relationship with their child’s school.

  • Socorro High School — 71 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Sarracino Middle School — 81 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Zimmerly — 77 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Parkview — 88 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • San Antonio Elementary — 94 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Midway Elementary — 79 percent rated SCS as good or excellent

According to the results, SCS has an active school advisory council, and involves parents in organized, ongoing, and timely ways in planning, reviewing, and improving school programs. There was also positive ratings for SSD’s strategies to reach out to parents who are less involved to solicit their ideas and report back to them.

Community Building

The last key area asked parents to evaluate ways the district blends community resources to better serve students and families. Respondents evaluated the district’s resource directory and how the district works with local businesses, industries, libraries, parks, museums and other organizations on programs to enhance student skills and learning.

  • Socorro High School — 70 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Sarracino Middle School — 80 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Zimmerly — 76 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Parkview — 89 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • San Antonio Elementary — 87 percent rated SCS as good or excellent
  • Midway Elementary — 77 percent rated SCS as good or excellent

In the brief questionnaire circulated among Socorro employers, the majority responded that literacy, writing skills, phone skills and flexibility were the top requirements. The sample included local representatives from clerical, sales, research restaurant construction, and banking.

Other Business

  • Interim District School Superintendent Vannetta Perry informed the board that there is now a streamlined cellphone use policy.

“We went through the entire policy, pulled together each separate reference to use and placed it all in a single policy,” she said.

School Board President Ann Shiells raised the issue of a dedicated phone for disciplinary use, i.e., staff needing to capture inappropriate texting, or pictures by students.

While no such phone is currently available, Perry indicated it could be considered. Weaver also mentioned the need for time limits for holding student related pictures or other data.

  • In informing the board of current resignations, Perry announced Vern Smith, director of technology, had resigned.
  • Finance Officer Donald Monette reported a “small windfall” for the upcoming budget, in that the New Mexico Public Education Department will release $13,500 to the district as a whole and Cottonwood Charter School will receive $1,250.

Monette encouraged the board to be “cautious” in that student units are slightly down, with the apparent gain more likely evening out to a “zero sum.”

  • The board also met in closed executive session to discussed the appointment of a permanent superintendent. The final announcement will be made at a special board meeting at 6 p.m., April 4.

 


-- Email the author at lalvarado@dchieftain.com.