A “modern-day suggestion box” would benefit parents of Amagansett School students, one parent told the school board Tuesday morning.
Jennifer Brew, who said this was her second time attending a board meeting, said more communication was needed. The school’s website lists board members’ names, she said, but no way to contact them. Parents who are too busy to attend board meetings should be able to email the members with their questions or concerns, Ms. Brew said. “Maybe it’s like the modern-day suggestion box. It’s just a way for other people to know what’s going on.”
At the board’s June 10 meeting, in the wake of the May 30 resignation of Robert Brisbane, the principal, Ms. Brew had remarked on a “revolving door” of school staff and asked if staff members were happy at the school. Dr. Brisbane had been with the school for just one year. Another parent had also expressed confusion at that meeting about the school year that was just ending.
Mary Lownes, a board member, said board meetings were “a much better forum” than email to speak with the entire board. “We’d love to hear feedback from the community,” she said. Minutes of meetings are posted on the website, she said. “There’s more communication than I’ve ever seen.”
A meeting’s agenda is posted on the website, aufsd.org, on the Friday before each of the body’s twice-monthly meetings, said Cheryl Bloecker, the district clerk. District Superintendent Eleanor Tritt said that the site was undergoing a revision. “Our goal will be to have more communication from teachers to parents about what’s going on,” she said.
“I hear what you’re saying,” Patrick Bistrian, a board member, told Ms. Brew. “I would just hate to see you contact one board member and it get lost in translation when they bring it to all of us.”
“We try to make it as convenient as possible,” he added.
Both monthly meetings used to be held at night, said Ms. Lownes, but now one of them takes place in the morning, to accommodate parents unable to attend in the evenings. Ms. Tritt, as liaison to the board, passes on any important information to its members, she said, as does the interim principal, Thomas Lamorgese, “because we’re not here every day. It’s a volunteer position, we all have jobs.”
The shared decision-making committee, which includes parent liaisons, is another vehicle for communication, Ms. Tritt said.
Ms. Brew pressed for greater connection, saying she and other parents would propose expanded duties for class parents, whom she said should be “family ambassadors of sorts,” particularly to parents and children new to the school.
“Being a very small school, we should all know what’s going on and feel a part,” she said. Other parents, she said, have asked her to speak for them at board meetings because they are unable to attend meetings or want to remain anonymous. “That’s why I thought a suggestion box, that could funnel into the board as a whole and then collectively be addressed, would be great.”
“People do reach out,” Ms. Lownes said. “There’s a balance. . . . There’s a lot of parents that don’t seek us out if they don’t have issues or are busy. They don’t seek out the forum we’ve set forth because they have connections through parents.”
Also at the meeting, Ms. Tritt thanked the PTA as well as parents and students who participated in the Amagansett Fire Department’s 100th anniversary celebration on July 12. She also thanked Bistrian Materials, which contributed the school’s prize-winning float. “The kids that participated had a lot of fun,” she said. “It was fabulous.”