Changes proposed for student recruitment Superintendent wants to make website, packets of info, available to parents
TOWANDA - The Towanda superintendent of schools on Tuesday proposed changes that would give community organizations, such as the Towanda Little League or the Girl Scouts, more of an opportunity to recruit students in the school district.
Superintendent Steven Gobble proposed the changes after Towanda School Board member Brooks Greenland criticized the current procedures on distributing recruitment information as too restrictive.
"Parents are not getting the information" they need about opportunities for their children to participate in community organizations, Greenland said at Tuesday's meeting of the Towanda School District's Policy & Curriculum Committee, where Gobble outlined his proposed changes. "That is the problem."
Gobble said he would like to create a section of the school district's website where community organizations would be able to provide links to information they'd like parents and students to see, such as information about sign ups for Little League.
It's likely that the link would be to the organization's website, Gobble said.
In certain cases, the school district would use its Skyward system to broadcast a pre-recorded telephone call to a target group of parents, alerting them to the fact that there is information available through the school district's website from community organizations that might be of interest to their children.
For example, the school district could use Skyward to tell parents of students in grades 1 to 4 that there is information available at the district's website on Little League, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts, Gobble said.
In addition, he wants to put together large packets twice a year of announcements from community organizations, such as recruitment information, which students could take home if they wish to.
The packets could be made available at the school office for students to pick up. Or there could be an arrangement where the packets are brought to a class, and children would be asked to raise their hand if they wanted a packet, Gobble said.
It's very likely that the packets would be distributed in September and January.
Distributing the packets twice a year would be less disruptive of class time than the current procedure, where an announcement is made over the school's intercom system each time that an organization brings information to the school. Under the current procedure, the announcement states that the information is available for the students to pick up in the school office, if they want it, and class time may be lost so that student can retrieve the information.
Gobble said after the meeting that he believes the distribution of the packets will be a more effective way of getting the information into the hands of parents and students than the current system.
He would screen the written information that would go into the packets, based on a number of criteria.
For example, the information could not be political in nature, and could not promote or denigrate religion or religious practice, he said.
And it could not be derogatory toward any ethnic, religious or racial group.
School board member Evelyn Sherburne asked whether an announcement about a church's after-school program for elementary school students, which would be "kind of like a Sunday school," could be included in the packet.
School board member Robert Fetterman said the notification does would not promote religion, but school board member Susan Portnoff said it would.
Elementary school Principal Jennifer Farley said the notification of the church's after-school program would be allowed in the packet.
"We are legally required to allow them to participate," she said.
Under current school policy, recruitment information that community organizations bring in to the school district cannot be handed out to all students in their classrooms to take home. Such a distribution would violate the "freedom of religion," Portnoff has said.
Gobble said some parts of the proposed changes still need to be reviewed by the school district's solicitor.
The proposed changes would also need to be approved by the full school board before they could go into effect, Gobble said.
Gobble said that he has met with Greenland, and said that she approved of the changes.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.