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A-PAGE making positive changes

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 17th, 2012

A-PAGE vice chair Coleen Astalos, left, and A-PAGE chair Rhett Jackson, right, briefed the ABOE on Monday night. Courier photo by Lauren Krizansky

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Nearly one year ago, the Alamosa Board of Education was skeptical about the Alamosa Parent Advocacy Group for Education (A-PAGE). Today, the group is proving it wants only a first-rate education for the district’s children, and the ABOE is thankful.

Formed in 2011, A-PAGE is a citizen group aiming to improve communication between school district officials and parents. Its mission is to partner with the Alamosa School District to ensure education excellence for children through adherence to board policies and procedures. The group’s intentions also include embracing the Alamosa School District core belief of “a partnership of staff, students, family and community” in efforts to assist with communication between the school district and parents.

On Monday night, A-PAGE chair Rhett Jackson and vice chair Coleen Astalos, who also presides over the district’s District Accountability Committee (DAC), visited with the ABOE about their purpose and recent accomplishments including organizing Ortega Middle School (OMS) parent/teacher conferences; compiling parent input on the district’s 2012-2013 calendar and developing, implementing and compiling a parents needs assessment.

“We believe the more we reach out to parents and let them know they have a voice, they will be involved in their children’s education,” Jackson said. “We feel we know what is going on. We are trying to create an avenue for parents.”

The group has had a representative present at 49 ABOE and/or DAC meetings since 2011. They have passed on the meeting happenings through website blog posts and newsletters, and relayed district information to concerned parents through meetings and other means.

“We hope this demonstrates how we are trying to work with and improve parent involvement in the district,” Jackson said. “We hope our actions speak louder than our words.”

Based on the OMS parent/teacher conference feedback, the group’s actions are speaking volumes. The conference scheduling included an online option for parents to sign up for a time to meet with their children’s teachers. According to the A-PAGE data presented to the ABOE, 82 percent of parents signed up in advance and of those who did sign up in advance, 60 percent did so online, 17 percent called the OMS office to pin down a time and 23 percent were signed up through the teacher. The majority of parents who signed up online reported the process was very easy, 77 percent felt the scheduling improved the parent/teacher experience and 92 percent would like to see the same scheduling system offered in the future.

“We had been hearing concerns about this (parent/teacher conferences) for sometime,” Jackson said before reading a list of mostly positive comments from middle school families. “Parents expressed appreciation to A-PAGE for doing this.”

The ABOE also expressed its gratitude.

“We need to have that communication from parents that don’t have a voice,” ABOE secretary Christine Haslett said. “I hope you get more parents involves. This will make the district stronger.”

She also applauded the group’s ability and goal to reach out the district’s Spanish speaking community.

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