NCSD is hosting a series of community conversations, where parents and community members can contribute unique perspectives in a positive, productive setting. We want to know what's working, what isn't working, and what your dreams are for a more fair and equitable education today and in the future.
Each event features a discussion that is driven by the questions participants bring about a particular topic. Below, please find the questions and responses that were captured from the evening’s discussion.
General Parent Involvement Questions
- Gathering Topic Ideas - October 2022
- Parent Involvement - December 2022
- Student Wellness - April 2023
Here are the comments and questions that were generated by participants during our first community conversation. They are grouped by theme.
- Parent Involvement- Theme for conversation on 12.15.22
- Student Wellness- Theme for conversation on 4.20.23
- Equity - Theme for a future community conversation
- Academic Differentiation - Theme for a future community conversation
This theme emerged from a series of questions from participants about supporting the many different aspects of student learning. While academics are central, there are also many ways to support students mental, social and emotional health, and participants requested the opportunity to dive deeper into these additional aspects of students' education.
Participants also wanted to have deeper conversations about how schools and teachers are meeting the wide range of academic needs that students are bringing to the classroom. Teachers have always had tools to differentiate and individualize instruction, and these tools are even more imperative as families return from a variety of pandemic experiences.
- Do volunteers get to pick their location and role?
- Site Councils and PTO groups are supposed to have teachers participate, but as far as I can tell, they are not paid for their time. Is there a way to pay teachers to participate in these groups?
- Aside from holding events, how can the PTO help at the middle school level?
- Can we host a mass volunteer training night so families feel more prepared or comfortable?
- The portal to parent involvement seems to be the PTA or direct teacher asks. How can it be opened up?
- Are there opportunities for parents to volunteer outside of school hours?
- How can we tap into the resources we have in our community (artists, musicians, etc.)?
- Is there any way to consolidate background checks- if you have more than one through DHS or other organizations could NCSD use that?
- How can we get more sports programs in the middle schools?
- Are all the videos still required (and take tests on) to volunteer?
- Have you considered a different time or place to have these community conversations, to actually get community involvement?
Teachers can discuss responsibilities outside of the classroom with their building administrators. Many administrators require teachers to pick one student club, activity or committee to support, and site councils and PTOs may be on that list of options. If these responsibilities occur outside of the teachers contract day, they will be compensated, per contract language.
There is a link on the district website to the volunteer information page, including the telephone number and email address for the Volunteer Coordinator. This link can be included on each school's website as well.
There is a link on the district website to the volunteer information page, including the telephone number and email address for the Volunteer Coordinator. The informational videos included in the volunteer application process are optional.
We made several considerations when planning the events. The location is geographically central to the district, and the 6:00-7:30pm time slot is to accommodate many parents’ work schedules. The offer of childcare and language interpretation have also helped some families attend that wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
- Is there a place online where all Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) can easily gain info/collaborate/gain insight to spark ideas or give advice to each other?
- As we move to the new website, will there be more opportunities for integration and a single sign-on for all the various apps and websites?
- Can the PTO post to ParentSquare?
- Can PTO events be publicized on district social media, such as NCSD Facebook?
- How can we involve all families to feel included- media, podcasts, videos, etc.?
- Can parents receive materials in their preferred language?
- Spanish is the 2nd most common language in our district- how can we make sure we are supporting Spanish speaking families?
- How can we encourage more dialogue between parents and staff- i.e. coffee with principal, etc?
Many school websites have links for information about their PTA or PTO. While there is no common site for all parent-teacher organizations, contact information for PTA/PTOs is often listed on each school's website. Collaboration could be done via phone calls or email. PTA/PTO boards could also ask schools to use a specific facility for a collaborative meeting.
The District’s Community Relations Department loves to share stories and relies on our employees, students and families to let us know when events are happening or if there are ideas for story ideas. Please contact Curtis Long at email@example.com.
We always have room for improvement in this area. Our district has all districtwide messages translated into Spanish and also has a Spanish-speaking liaisons on staff. The liaison's top responsibility is to make sure our Spanish speaking families are receiving information and the supports they need for their children to be successful in our schools. There is also at least one bilingual paraprofessional in each school; many of these are Spanish speaking. Our bilingual schools have multiple bilingual staff as well.
- How can we engage families together at more diverse schools instead of different family nights for different groups?
- How can we get more funding to the inclusion and equity part?
- How can the PTO parents encourage other parents who want to be involved?
NCSD has leveraged a variety of funding sources to support equity and inclusion, including the addition of student and family advocates and community outreach facilitators, and funding for student and family activities. Through community engagement activities, we have collected feedback from families that has informed our supports for next year using the Student Investment Account, which is centered around equity and inclusion.
PTO parents are encouraged to work with their principal to plan outreach and meeting details that will meet the needs of the diverse families in the community. Communication structures, meeting times, format (virtual and in-person), and the availability of childcare are often contributing factors in a family's ability to participate.
- What do you do if the teacher and principal only provide an overview/dismissive response on status? (“Don’t worry, your kid is doing great.”)
- Are we not allowed to volunteer or assist due to “multiple behavior” challenges of other students?
- Why should students on or above grade level not be given as much instruction time because of staffing issues and parents limited in volunteering time?
- Why is 1 reading group per week acceptable as reading education, and parents can’t come in and help?
- How can I help my children prepare scholarship applications to pay for college?
- Why is study hall obligatory in high school?
Submit a request to the teacher/administrator via email or telephone; be specific and concise.
Request a meeting with the classroom teacher, using some of the guiding questions from the conference brochure (i.e., What is “doing great?”).
Peruse the information from the district website.
Schedule a time to talk with the teacher and ask specific questions such as, “What can you tell me about my student’s reading level?” or “Is my student on track to move to the next level of math?”
Email the teacher and/or administrator with specific questions regarding academic progress. Counselors can also answer questions about the student’s educational plan, the credits they’ve earned toward graduation, and what is still needed for their diploma and/or college entrance requirements.
According to information provided by Elementary Principals, volunteering within the schools is permissible. Volunteering in specific classrooms may have limitations for the following reasons:
Specific classroom support is not identified nor requested by the classroom teacher
Other areas of the school building could benefit from volunteer support (schools have a predetermined list of options)
Students and staff continue to build strong relationships within the classroom setting and may limit any external adult interactions or distractions
Some families support their own child(ren)’s classrooms; others do not, as it may cause distraction within the learning environment
Volunteers are welcomed in secondary schools. Principals direct the areas where volunteers are needed.
While there are some volunteer opportunities during the school day, at the secondary level there are many events that occur after school and on weekends, and parent help with those events is very much appreciated.
Distribution of Time.. Grades K-5 2022-23 is consistent within elementary schools. There is minimal variance due to the schedules of staff.
Small group instruction happens with all students; increased intervention support is provided to students who are experiencing an opportunity gap.
Students at/above grade level receive scaffolded support to enhance their learning. This may be done individually, with a partner, or peers. Oftentimes, a student may have an ICP (Individualized Classroom Plan) to support this type of learning. The purpose of the ICP is to ensure that students' academic gifts are stimulated and thriving through modification that is specific to meet the unique learning needs.
While parents might have the option to volunteer within the school setting, they might support a different group of students than their own.
Students receive differentiated instruction within their courses that they take in middle and high school. This takes the form of intentional grouping of students, assignments that allow a variety of ways for students to demonstrate learning, and through the selection of elective courses so students can follow their interests.
In high schools, accelerated coursework in AP and IB are available to all students. Students who have IEPs may receive extra instruction through support classes. All students have support during study halls, and there are many instructional resources for students to access anytime via digital curriculum to help individualize support for each student.
College and Career teachers, Counselors and Aspire advocates are all available to support college readiness. All of these staff members work at each of the high schools and are happy to provide information on scholarships and FAFSA through the College & Career Centers. College and Career staff members visit classrooms to walk students through various college application processes and scholarship opportunities are published to students through College and Career Google Classrooms the student/parent newsletters.
At the high school level 9th-grade students take a semester of College and Career Readiness and a semester of study hall. At the 10th grade level students take one year of study hall. At these levels, students are scheduled into 8 periods and 7 courses and it is advantageous for them to have time carved out to focus on their coursework. This schedule supports on-time graduation by helping students pass the classes required for a high school diploma.
- How do I get involved in the next bond planning conversations?
- Will the solar energy upgrades be district-wide? What other energy-saving projects are being planned?
- Parents are not allowed to use the playground after school due to the CARE program. Is there a way to change that?
House Bill (HB) 2496 Green Energy Technologies (GET) requires an investment in Green Energy Technology based on the cost and type of construction projects in the bond.
Ten projects met the criteria for GET and the total requirement totaled approximately $2.2 million.
The district wanted to use the installation of solar panels as an educational opportunity for all students in the district, efficiently install one system and avoid spending money on redundant parts of the system at 10 locations.
The district decided to consolidate the solar panel investment at Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center. By doing this all students in the district (especially high school students) can have access to the learning opportunities and the project aligns with the mission of the professional technical center.
Continued Energy Savings:
North Clackamas School District Facilities team will be entering 2023 rejoining the Energy Trust of Oregon Strategic Energy Management program. The team will prepare a plan to best utilize Energy Incentive funds available to Oregon Schools. These incentives help to offset total project costs associated with improvements to the school district's energy systems, including HVAC/controls, lighting (interior and exterior) to LED, window upgrades, insulation, and so on.
We will be selecting a handful of projects and schools that will meet the best criteria for the budget and provide the quickest return to the school district.
Here are the comments and questions that were generated by participants during this conversation. They are grouped by theme.
The discussion focused on the process for connecting students and families with mental health services. We discussed what those services look like, how the district engages with outside services, and additional staff members who can support students in school until they can connect with an individual therapist from a partner organization.
This portion of the discussion focused on how educators are trained to engage student wellness in addition to academic progress. Using the Danielson Framework for teacher professional growth, we were able to see the ways staff members are guided toward supporting student well-being as they plan lessons, influence classroom environment, teach engaging lessons, and connect with students' families.
Parents and staff members discussed the ways in which students are re-learning to be in community with each other. We discussed areas of concern around supervision, such as buses and restrooms, and the process of restorative justice when students have had behavioral difficulties. All would like to see schools continue to grow in the areas of safety and belonging for all students.
This portion of the conversation explored ways of collecting feedback from students, families, and staff on school climate and culture, such as the Youth Truth survey. Community members wanted to know how staff members can turn survey information into action steps that align with the survey data and the school's improvement goals.