Written by Dr. Bonnie Stephens, Principal
Hoosiers can peruse the newspaper on any given day and find articles about changes or proposed changes that will affect public education. Over the last few years, there has been Common Core, Full Day Kindergarten, 90-minute Reading Block, and Response to Intervention, to name a few. But more than these instructional initiatives, Hoosiers continue to read about school funding. It is old news that Valparaiso Community Schools is operating on fewer dollars now – with current proposals that could result in even less funding for the future.
All of this has an impact on the experience each child has in our schools. Some of these changes have most definitely resulted in better experiences for children with improved instructional experiences. The reduced funding has not had a positive impact for students.
As parents, our children are the investment of our lives. It is concerning to see the institution that is responsible for their academic development to take hit after hit, without end in sight. Parents feel called to take action to support their children.
So, what is a parent to do?
Be informed. Communicate to elected officials. Vote.
And in the meantime, volunteer and donate.
At Hayes Leonard Elementary, our parents have kept us running in the midst of very difficult financial times. When we experienced office staff cuts, our parents organized and trained a group of volunteers to come in every day for two hours to work the reception desk. After our instructional aides were cut, Hayes Leonard parents have taken on the role of leading special reading groups and one-on-one help for students. When the school could no longer employ a staff member to help teachers with clerical work, Hayes Leonard parents designed a volunteer position staffed daily by parents to run copies and do paper projects for teachers. When instructional supply budgets were eliminated for individual teachers, Hayes Leonard parents provided the funds. When Art, Music, and PE allowances were cut, parents gave the money. Parents have generously donated their own money, and have solicited donations for matching funds from their employers.
And then, Hayes Leonard parents said, “We want to do more.”
After seeing the poor condition of the majority of the furnishings in the building, Hayes Leonard parents set out to help with that, too. Last May, the PTO held their first dinner auction fundraising event. It was highly successful, and as a result, new instructional tables and chairs, book shelves, and small group furniture for several rooms were purchased. Multiple areas of the building have been transformed with this furniture to allow for the small-group, differentiated instruction we know is best for students. Once again, we were able to advance our instructional work through the support of parents.
But, Hayes Leonard parents aren’t done yet. They have another event planned… this year a Casino Night Auction on May 2, 2014 at Old Towne Banquet Center. They have high hopes of raising the funds to continue to purchase student desks and chairs for every room, for every child.
When it comes to the future of our children, parents do not have the luxury of waiting to see what our legislators decide to do and watching it play out in our children’s schools. Hayes Leonard Elementary parents understand this, and take the action they can each day to assure their children receive the elementary school experience that will best prepare them for the rest of their lives.