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School board discusses ways for more family involvement


At its regular meeting held on June 11, the Archuleta School District Board of Education (BOE) heard from Julie Buchner, president of the District Accountability Committee (DAC), in regard to feedback received from the committee’s family engagement survey, which was distributed in February.

Buchner explained that conducting the survey, gathering results and providing action steps aligns with the DAC’s responsibility outlined by ASD by assisting the district in implementing its parent-engagement policy and assisting schools in the district and the district as a whole increase parents’ engagement with educators.

“More importantly, studies have shown that schools that effectively engage families find that their students earn higher grades, score higher on tests, develop better social skills and are more likely to graduate,” she added.

Buchner mentioned she feels the survey was “well received” with a total of 239 responses.

Buchner noted there are approximately 1,500 students enrolled in the district and that the DAC was hoping to get a minimum of a 10 to 15 percent response rate. 

Given that some of the responses could have come from parents with multiple students, the DAC got at least a 16 percent response rate, Buchner indicated.

She explained that there were two types of responses received with the survey; a scaled response and a free response.

“That kind of helped us focus on what we wanted to do with the information,” she said.

Buchner highlighted a few of the free responses received that included comments such as being glad the district is asking about this. 

She also noted responses to the question of, “If you were in charge, how would you engage with the community?” to which respondents answered: communicate with parents about more opportunities to help, provide more outlets for parent involvement and have a consistent place where volunteer opportunities are listed.

Buchner also noted comments that mention families simply do not hear about opportunities to volunteer.

Buchner added that in the scaled response section, approximately 48 percent of respondents indicated that they felt there was a “medium-large” or “very large” barrier when it comes to accessing involvement opportunities at schools.

She explained that it is the responsibility of the DAC to focus on what the district can do to offer more engagement opportunities to families rather than focusing on how to get families to free up more time in their busy schedules.

“We’re all busy,” she said, explaining that life happens and the district cannot expect families to be able to alter their schedules accordingly all the time. 

She mentioned that the DAC needs to focus on “modifiable” factors, like offering more opportunities for family engagement in trying to improve how the district provides information about involvement opportunities.

“It’s also worth noting we plan to administer this survey in years to come so that we can have comparative data,” Buchner said.

Buchner explained that the DAC plans to launch a family hub tab on the ASD website that will list volunteer opportunities, substitute teaching information, a section for families new to Pagosa and information on the DAC.

“I think a lot of families need to, kind of want to, know how to integrate,” Buchner said.

She added that family events will be posted under the family hub tab, as well.

“This is nothing brand new or earth-shattering, but I think it’s a step in the direction of what the parents are asking for and a place where we can meet them,” she said.

BOE president Bob Lynch commented that the family hub is great way to turn the survey information into something “actionable.”

Buchner mentioned that it is a goal of the DAC to have all the family resources centralized.

BOE member Amanda Schick also commented on the survey and DAC’s plans, with approval of the ideas.

“I think that this survey honestly gave a lot of confidence that we are doing the right things with the ideas that we have and what families are giving us, and that we want to connect … Pagosa is special, in the sense that people come here, they want to be a part of the community, they want to be a part of the schools and so I think this will be a great way to ensure that there’s more connection if it’s possible,” she said.

ASD Superintendent Rick Holt also commented in support of the DAC for “stepping up” with conducting the survey and that he is looking forward to continuing to use the survey in years to come.

Buchner mentioned the DAC is always open for new membership.