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Leaders, educators discuss parental concerns
Participants offer solutions after Fort Stewart forum
0417 edu forum 1
Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton and Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin recognize military family life consultants Linda Miller, center left, and Jamie Jacobs for their efforts during the 2010-11 school year. - photo by Denise Etheridge

Following a spring education forum at Fort Stewart on Tuesday, Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton, his senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin, Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer and South Carolina/Fort Stewart/DoDDS-Cuba District School Superintendent Dr. Samantha Ingram listened Wednesday as parent representatives and educators presented military parents’ concerns regarding their children’s education.

Parents made recommendations to improve a number of issues at the three Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools on Fort Stewart and Liberty County public schools.

Fort Stewart DODEA school board President Lisa McClean and Military Child Education Coalition Parent 2 Parent Cadre Team leader Kristy Cormier presented parents’ concerns.

One recommendation was for DODEA schools to provide parents of special-needs students more support in finding local resources. Parents also requested the Special Needs Assessment Program (SNAP) team concept be implemented in DODEA schools.

Milton suggested a town hall meeting about SNAP be scheduled at the start of the school year so parents could meet special-needs coordinators.

Tutoring options also were discussed, including online tutoring programs and the possibility of engaging local colleges and universities to provide tutorial services for students.

Fort Stewart leaders also talked about ways to better communicate information regarding new DODEA curriculum and school hours. Local media, such as the Frontline newspaper, could be utilized and letters would be sent to parents, they said.

Parents of children attending post schools also want to see more enrichment activities coordinated between Brittin, Diamond and Kessler elementary schools, such as spelling bees and a reading bowl, Cormier said. Ingram told the group a system-wide science fair is planned for DODEA schools next year.

Parents recommended the Liberty County school system improve communication between parents and teachers. School websites and teachers’ blogs are appreciated, but should be updated regularly, school liaison officer Craig Cook said. A lot of information posted at the start of the school year, such as calendars, also needs to be accessible to military families transitioning in during the middle of the school year, Cook said.

Parental concerns about cars speeding near school bus stops also were discussed.

Scherer suggested the installation beef up police presence at the start of the school year around school zones and bus stops. Handing out tickets the first two weeks of school would go a long way toward "slowing everybody down a bit," she said.

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