Candidates suggest mandatory meeting as a way to get more parental involvement at Warren Township High School

Posted2/6/2015 5:30 AM
  • Upper from left,  Monika Bobo and Barb Conway, and lower from left ,  Thomas Drake and Michael Munda are candidates for  Warren Township High School District 121 board in the 2015 election.

    Upper from left, Monika Bobo and Barb Conway, and lower from left , Thomas Drake and Michael Munda are candidates for Warren Township High School District 121 board in the 2015 election.

  • Monika Bobo

    Monika Bobo

  • Michael Munda

    Michael Munda

  • Thomas Drake

    Thomas Drake

  • Barb Conway

    Barb Conway

It may be time for parental involvement to become more than a volunteer endeavor, according to candidates for the Warren Township High School board.

Because they are in a contested race for three, 4-year seats in the April 7 election, Gurnee-based Warren District 121 candidates Monika Bobo, Thomas Drake, Michael Munda and Barb Conway answered questions on the issues this week in a Daily Herald editorial board endorsement interview.

One question pertained to what the candidates believe can be done to get more parents involved at Warren, which led to the candidates agreeing about a possible mandatory meeting for the adults.

All four candidates acknowledged they were pleased that about 400 residents attended a December meeting regarding controversial remarks made by board member Liz Biondi, but said the interest level in District 121 should go beyond one evening.

Munda, who was appointed as a school board member in 2009, said those who attend parent-teacher conferences typically have children doing well in school. He said he's found parents of students not doing well academically usually are the ones who don't attend such conferences.

To get all parents into the school, Munda said, the required meeting for them could be the solution. Such a session could occur when the teenagers are starting high school, and might lead the parents into becoming active at Warren while their students are there, he said.

"We have the ability to be creative as long as we stay within the legal parameters of what we can ask," Munda said.

Drake, a political newcomer, also likes the idea of a mandatory parent meeting. He said various district-related topics could be addressed with the parents.

"Are you aware of the elections coming up or the policies being presented in front of the board?' Drake said in citing examples.

Bobo, also a first-time candidate, said "face time is essential" to getting parents invested in Warren.

"I really do like the idea of having some sort of required parent night at the beginning," Bobo said. "You need to get them early. By the time their child is a senior and they're not involved in the school, they're not going to become involved in the school."

Conway, a four-year board member, said a mandatory parent session would be worth trying, even if not everyone shows up.

"I think, in theory, it's a very good idea," she said.

James Russell, a spokesman for the Illinois Association of School Boards, said it's common for elected officials in the state to discuss ways to get parents more involved.

"Some districts also have active citizen advisory councils that utilize the collective voice of parents and others in the community," Russell said. "Parents participating in these organizations don't serve as their classroom or child's representative, but their direct and active interest in their child's education motivates their service. In fact, some of these people eventually run for and are elected to school boards.

District 121 board member James Walz will be on the ballot for a 2-year post and is running unopposed.

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