As students head back to school this week, we're reminded of the importance of parents staying involved not only in their children's education, but in district policy issues as well.
For many districts, these times are tumultuous. Budget cuts from last spring have severely limited student activities at some schools. Others were forced to raise money to keep some of their sports programs. In difficult times, the tenacity of the community shines through as a silver lining.
At several districts, there will be administrative changes. The Gloversville Enlarged School District, Wheelerville Union Free School District and Wells Central School District have new superintendents this year. The Canajoharie Central School District selected a new superintendent last year, and Fonda-Fultonville and Northville are searching for permanent superintendents. Johnstown's Glebe Street Elementary School will get a new principal.
In Gloversville, some elementary school principals who have provided leadership will retire at the end of the school year at a time when the state has designated three of the four schools as "focus schools" needing to make improvements. Again, this is a major policy change teachers, administrators and parents need to be informed about.
Effective leadership is always important, but we can't recall a time it's ever been more necessary.
The state has handed down new regulations, including an anti-bullying law that requires districts to have new policies and new standards for teachers and administrators.
There also is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which is federal legislation that set new nutrition standards for food in schools starting this school year.
The experience for teachers is constantly changing as they try to keep in touch with what the state is requiring them to do.
Technology also is rapidly changing. Districts such as Gloversville have added mobile learning devices and iPads to the curriculum. The way students learn has changed.
Now more than ever, we urge parents to read the districts' websites and newsletters, their local newspaper and the state Education Department's website. Attend school board meetings. Even if you no longer have students in the district, keeping updated on changes in children's lives in your community is important because those changes affect you.
Extracurricular activities are important for the community because they keep kids off the street while their minds are engaged. In these difficult times - as state aid declines and administrators and policies change - stay informed and involved.