Friday, January 22, 2010

Parental and Community Involvement

Parents and a variety of appropriate community groups will be integrally involved in the planning, program design and implementation of the Elementary School for Sustainable Design. The ES4SD is being developed in response to the great need in an under-served community for an innovative, best practices school that will meet the needs of the families in the neighborhood. Our decision to go forward with the ES4SD has its roots in the numerous conversations and requests from parents to begin this educational initiative. The basic organization for parental involvement will be the ES4SD Parent Association (PA). The PA will be a clearinghouse for ideas and will serve as the primary means of communication with parents about all issues related to planning, design, and implementation. In this 21st century Age of Technology, we are no longer bound by the geographical necessity of being gathered at the same physical place to meet. The PA will make full use of the internet with the ES4SD website and blog to serve as an "always on" extension of the PA. Via the internet, parents who cannot attend a meeting on a certain day and time will still be able to have their voices heard regarding their school related questions, comments, concerns, ideas, etc. by just logging on. We see 2 distinct but interrelated community sets who will have real, substantial, and authentic input in the planning, design, and implementation of the charter school. The community groups who are in the physical geographic neighborhood where the school is located will be deeply involved in the ES4SD. We understand and firmly believe that a diversity of views offered by appropriate neighborhood based associations for the benefit of our students will be of great benefit as we create the reality of the ES4SD. We envision that community input will be handled as a subset of the Parent Association. Again, the internet will also facilitate input via our website and blog. There is a 3rd community related to the ES4SD whose input into the planning, design, and implementation of the school we also actively seek, i.e. our Global Community Partners (GCP). Our GCP's will be totally unfettered by geography and much of their input will take place electronically. Our GCP groups will be of great value in realizing the goals of our mission and vision and they will address issues related to sustainability, architectural design, alternative energy, water quality, the environment, and cutting edge educational trends. Our plan is to establish the ES4SD Foundation and our GCP's will be represented on that platform, as well. Parents and Community Organizations will be directly involved with the rights and responsibilities of governance. There will be a parent and a community representative on the Board of Directors and there will be numerous opportunities for parents to serve on Board committees. It is clear that the key to successful parental and community partnerships will be to establish good lines of communication and consistent organizational frameworks to effectively transmit the flow of those communications between all stakeholders.

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