School board meet & greet an "energizing experience"
Ken Watts | 9/12/2013, 12:53 p.m.
STONE MOUNTAIN DeKalb parents and stakeholders on Sept. 11 got a rare chance to speak directly with their School Board members one on one about their concerns and priorities in an informal setting.
The DeKalb County Council of PTAs sponsored a “meet and greet” in the atrium of the school district’s Administrative and Instructional Complex in Stone Mountain.
“The subjects run the gamut.” said David Campbell who represents South DeKalb’s District 5. “For example, they’re asking about possible charter clusters in which charter schools would have their own governing body. We’ll vote on that issue in the next 60 to 90 days.”
Campbell said parents also talked about textbook shortages and invited board members to local PTA meetings.
“It’s been a positive, energizing experience. Everyone has been friendly and supportive,” Campbell said.
Monica Harris, mother of a student at Miller Grove Middle School in District 5, said she was encouraged by Campbell’s eagerness to listen.
“He said call him anytime about our concerns,” said Harris. “We did talk about the textbook shortage at Miller Grove. We don’t have enough for all the kids. But we’re also struggling with overcrowding and large class sizes. We need additional teachers, which would make smaller class sizes possible.
Organizers of the event had planned to have the board members mix and mingle for about 30 minutes before leading breakout sessions with residents from their districts, but decided to extend the one on one chats for the entire two hours.
“Some people aren’t comfortable asking questions in front of a group,” said Dionne McGhee, president of the Council of PTAs. “The mix and mingle was going well and everyone was having a good time so we went with the flow.”
Board member Michael Erwin, who represents District 3 in South DeKalb, said he also got questions on a broad range of issues that might not come up at formal board meetings.
“They asked me about ways to improve teacher morale and deliver mentoring messages to young male students,” Erwin said.
He said positive behavior modeling from men can make all the difference in keeping boys out of trouble and focused on education.
Operation Lead president John Evans called the meet and greet a valuable opportunity for the public to build ongoing relationships with their representatives.
“Peole got a chance to know the board members as people and establish personal lines of communication that could pay dividends in the future,” Evans said.