Today there were a few topics that came through via email regarding Unit 4 schools and activities.

The first one involved Kenwood Elementary School. Information had been given to Kenwood parents stating that the school would be transitioning to the old Carrie Busey building on Kirby Ave. The information also indicated that Kenwood would be transitioning from a balanced calendar school to a regular calendar school. The biggest issue was that the information was conveyed very abruptly and that parents did not have an opportunity to provide feedback to the district administration regarding these changes.

When Unit 4 administration was asked for clarification about this situation the following email was submitted to the PTA Council from the superintendent:

1.        Construction funds have not been reallocated.  Funds are still dedicated to Kenwood for renovation.

2.       There are concerns with the renovation schedule and the balanced calendar.  It would certainly help the renovation schedule to have Kenwood on the regular calendar during that time period.  At this point there is a Demand to Bargain the impact of any schedule change from the Champaign Federation of Teachers (CFT) so all decisions are on hold until that is resolved. 

3.       Even if the schedule goes to regular calendar for the renovation time period, there has been no decision to keep it as regular once the building is completed. 

4.       There are no plans to ‘fill in’ the courtyard.  It was recommended to completely redo the courtyard with new grass, plants, etc – only to improve the quality of the green space.

5.       A meeting with the Kenwood union stewards, administration, capital improvements supervisor, PTA President and district administration is being scheduled to clarify all of the above issues.

While this email did not answer all questions or provide all reasoning behind the changes it was a good catalyst for discussion regarding how information is communicated to Unit 4 families. At the PTA Council meeting this evening Kenwood administrators and the Kenwood PTA were present, along with the school board president, to discuss this issue. Both sides explained their perspectives and opinions. The action plan moving forward was to include Kenwood parents, specifically the Kenwood PTA in future meetings and conversations regarding renovations to Kenwood. We will update this post as information is shared with the Council regarding this situation.

Next up on the agenda for the meeting was other information that has been passed around at schools. Parents had been told that the school district would no longer be covering the cost of certain field trips. The concern from the perspective of the district was that certain field trips put families in an awkward position if they were unable to afford the cost of a field trip. Additionally, concern was raised when a school PTA wanted to hold a dinner to raise funds for their school. The concern was again that some families would not be able to afford to attend the dinner. Those in attendance at the meeting this evening requested clarification regarding both items. Knowing exactly what field trips are affected by this new unspoken policy as well as what the limitations are with holding fundraisers are items to be discussed with Unit 4 administration.

These agenda items are a good examples of why parent involvement is key to the success of their schools. Parents have a right to ask their administrators, including district administration, to include them in decision-making. It is also imperative for parents to be involved with creating solutions to problems they perceive at their schools. Parents are an integral part of every school in the district. The PTA Council would like to take a more active role in advocating for parents to ensure that parents are being sufficiently served which in turns means our students are being served.

Each week the Council will post to Facebook, Twitter, and this blog a “Current Topics” section. We encourage parents to post comments letting us know what is going on in your schools. We want to hear questions and concerns, but also successes at your schools. The Council will be working on parent workshops, information panels, and brainstorming forums to encourage parent voice in the district. Coupled with these events will be student activity nights where students can participate in a variety of experiences. We will be partnering with local sports facilities, dance programs, and UI student groups to provide fun activities for Unit 4 students.

If parents have suggestions for student activities or parent workshops please let us know. We will post dates, times, topics, and activities as we solidify the events calendar. Please make sure to follow us here, on Facebook, and Twitter.


Twitter: @champaignpta

We hope everyone is enjoying their school year so far!