New Parent Assistance Center remains active
Although the number of calls have remained steady since the Parent Assistance Center went live in July for the Lee County School District, the visits to the center have increased by 60 percent.
The center was created due to Chairman Thomas Scott recognizing the need for improving family relations with the school district, which also involved Chief Academic Advisor Dr. Constance Jones.
The center’s mission is to “provide information and quick references to navigate the district in a seamless and easy fashion as they guide their children toward success.”
Dr. Ruthie Lohmeyer, Parent Assistance Center coordinator, said although the number of calls are still steady, the types of calls have changed dramatically since going live.
“I have been kept busy,” she said about the center. “I feel like I have been able to help quite a few parents on the phone and in person.”
Lohmeyer said between July 1 and the first day of school on Aug. 8 the calls were all about student assignment. Once school started, she said the calls shifted to bus transportation and bus stops, food assistance, school supplies and student assignment.
When the center first went live, Lohmeyer received calls about school phone numbers and what zones the schools were in.
The parents who make a visit to the Parent Assistance Center, she said, concern pretty heavy issues that requires more than 15 minutes on the phone.
“Last week (Aug. 15-19) I had more people dropping in with visits,” she said. “That went up about 60 percent.”
Scott said he thinks the center is very helpful because it is one place for people to go and get answers.
“(Lohmeyer) is hearing the problems and reacting to them,” he said, adding that once she begins to develop her data, the district can use it to make further refinements to better handle things.
Scott said it is about consolidating the information.
He said Lohmeyer is able to turn some of the questions back onto the parents to see if they have had conversations with their child’s principal first concerning the issue. He said parents need to have the conversations with the principal first about problems they are having in the school. If the problem is not resolved, Scott said the next step is contacting the Parent Assistance Center.
“We have a spot where it can be resolved,” he said about the center.
The next big change, Lohmeyer said, is the addition of Parenting Partners, which will involve a team of five who will train parents. She said parents really want to be involved but they do not know what it means to become involved.
“The whole purpose is we want parents to be vital contributers to their child’s academic success,” Lohmeyer said. “I like to focus on different ways to be involved with our parents.”
Scott said they are going to start putting their heads together next week to see which of the programs on the shelves they should be using more aggressively.
“We are trying to boil it down to ask for some key things and programs that we can use to involve parents more,” he said, adding that they are going to administer Parenting Partners at some pilot schools.
She said Parenting Partners is sponsored by the Title 1 department.
Those who have a question they need answered about the district can call Lohmeyer at 239-337-8574, email her at email@example.com, visit the website at studentservices.leeschools.net/PAC/welcome.htm or visit the center at 2855 Colonial Blvd., in Fort Myers.