A standing-room only crowd of parents got first-hand information from Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Harry Bull and other district leaders, during the February Parents’ Council meeting, held Feb. 9 at the Student Achievement Resource Center (SARC).
Questions covered a broad range of topics that are important to parents, including assessments, school boundaries, calendars, start times, standards and graduation requirements. A video of the presentation and a full recap of the questions asked and the answers provided will be available on the Parents’ Council website later this month.
The quantity and quality of state and federal testing was by far the most popular topic, with more than 20 questions submitted in person, in writing at the meeting or via email before the meeting.
“There are two things coming to the forefront of this issue - the over-abundance of testing and the type of testing,” Dr. Bull said. “I say to teachers all the time ‘I don’t know when you have time to teach the students what we’re assessing them on.’”
Bull explained that his job and the job of Cherry Creek Schools is to follow the law and administer required assessments. But he encouraged parents to do what they believe is best for their children when it comes to testing.
Bull shared that he is frustrated because “the law is starting to pit parents against schools and districts when we ought to be partners.”
He told the capacity crowd that he believes lawmakers are moving toward reducing the amount of assessments but he encouraged parents to contact their state legislators and congressional representatives. “Call them, email them, tell them what you think, what you value.”
Bull also answered questions about high school start times, reporting that the district is looking at the issue of whether teenagers need a later start time and what the ramifications of such a change might be, from transportation to work, sports and after-school activity schedules. Bull said the district would make some preliminary recommendations before the end of this school year, followed by community conversations about the issue next year.
At the end of the meeting, Bull reminded parents – and they agreed – that there are great things going on in Cherry Creek schools. “We’re not perfect, but we’re doing a great job of educating kids and preparing them for success in higher education and the workforce.”
He said a collaborative partnership with parents, which has always existed in the Cherry Creek Schools, is one of the district’s greatest strengths.
“When you have great students and parents working with outstanding classroom teachers and support staff, the result is great neighborhood schools. And that’s what we have in Cherry Creek.”