The Hartford Public Schools are working to build parent understanding of the federal Title 1 supports for community outreach by visiting every School Governance Council (SGC) and collaborating with Hartford Parent University on budget briefings. It’s about time.
Hartford Board of Education Member Julio Flores pointed out Tuesday that a central office team has met with every School Governance Council (SGC). Moreover, SGC representatives now will be invited to meetings of the Board’s Parent and Community Engagement Committee, which he chairs, Board Member Flores said.
Voicing concerns about poor communications regarding the Title 1 resource and the spotty SGC implementation, Hartford Parent University Executive Director Milly Arciniegas has gone blue in the face for years. Now, HPU is a partner in the effort to address those issues.
At a committee meeting last week, HPS Chief Operating Officer Dr. José Colón-Rivas discussed a draft fact sheet to encourage building-level SGC and Parent Teacher Organization applications for Title 1 Parent Involvement funds. Activities eligible for funding range from trainings relevant to a child’s developmental stages to filling out college applications – and also could include school-family-community action teams to develop public information initiatives.
Briefing parents on the nuances of District operations – and the budget – also is crucial, Board Member Flores emphasized. “You can’t have a business meeting where no one understands.” When he was SGC chair at Burns Latino Studies Academy, he recalled, parent leaders were feeling unsupported – and were unaware of the federal grant resources. “Title 1 funding comes up at the schools all the time,” he said, “and no one really understands it.”
Dr. Colón-Rivas also called for focused SGC training on the budget and noted that a February meeting with Hartford Parent University is planned on that topic.
District compliance with State law requiring School Governance Councils also should be a priority, Board Member Tiffany Glanville told the committee.
Here are the State’s frequently asked questions regarding SGCs.
The Bottom Line
The desire to get more SGCs up and running at every school has been expressed – and unrealized – for seven years now. One reason we don’t have high-functioning SGCs is that HPS has not made effective family engagement practices a priority.
The District knows where the SGCs are weak; Achieve Hartford! reported on this five years ago and District data updates annually tell the tale. Without strong PTOs and feeder pipelines – and principals dedicated to cultivating them as a means to help close the achievement gap – this “family engagement gap” will persist.
Thankfully, the District is partnering with Hartford Parent University on this. Past exasperation regarding lackluster Title 1 and SGC support is shifting … toward higher expectations. The Title 1 training under way – plus enhancement of SGCs – is all about empowering parents. That’s a huge positive.