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Parents, board members much engage community; Feel safer with a neighborhood watch

Parents, board members much engage community

2012 will hopefully bring changes to the Forest Grove School District operations, including improved accountability and a vision for the district.

I am very pleased that the strong slate of candidates should allow prompt unanimous appointments for the two open school board positions. A full board will help navigate the challenges before us.

Challenges include further cuts to address a $3.2 million budget shortfall; the impact of a new state law loosening student transfer restrictions, rising costs of services; teacher morale and the continuing state and federal mandates with no associated funding.

The Forest Grove community wants and deserves a school board which will effectively discuss the pros and cons of each agenda item and to listen to and respond to students, community members, teachers, parents, and grandparents.

The board should seek partnerships that will support our educational community and embrace our children for their unique gifts and interests. Sociologists Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider, in their study 'Trust in Schools,' maintain that successful school vision and reform depend on an atmosphere of trust.

Trust 'foments a moral imperative to take on the hard work of school improvement.' Trust is a necessary precondition for school improvement.

As a community, we need robust and open dialogue to recognize and accommodate divergent opinions. It is upsetting to parents, teachers and taxpayers when there is no or minimal opportunity for public review and input on new school initiatives.

It solves nothing to exclude parents and the public from important decisions about education policy or to disregard the educators who work with students daily.

Removing input may promote speed, but it also undermines the credibility and legitimacy of decisions, and it eliminates the kind of review that catches major mistakes before it is too late.

One must be careful about 'jumping on the bandwagon' just to say we're 'the leader or first to do so!'

I believe board members need to spend time in classroom environments to understand core issues and conditions. We need to remember author Diane Ravitch's observation that 'Education is the key to developing human capital.

The nature of our education system, whether mediocre or excellent, will influence society far into the future.' ('The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education.')

It is my hope that board members, teachers, administrators, parents, and the community will engage. Please consider attending board meetings, volunteering in schools, and engage with your neighbors. With trust and with confidence we can, together, solve problems and make a positive difference in our children's lives.

Kate Grandusky

School board member

Feel safer with a neighborhood watch

The noise she heard was soft and muffled - dull thumps against the side of her small house.

She leaned forward, straining to see through the slit in the curtains, anxious and alone.

Should she call the police? Was she in danger? She stood at the window listening and staring at dark shapes until the gray light of dawn brought a small sense of comfort.

Later that afternoon the young man and his wife from the house on the corner came by. They said there had been graffiti sprayed on fences in the night. They were starting a Neighborhood Watch group.

They would be the Block Captains and would gather information to share with their neighbors. They invited the elderly woman to their meeting and apologized for not coming by sooner to say hello.

At their first Neighborhood Watch gathering they all made new friends. They learned about personal safety from the Community Service Officers who also told the group how to identify suspicious people and vehicles, how to secure their homes, and when to use 911 or the non emergency number (503-629-0111).

They shared the latest crime trend information and answered many questions for them. The neighbors formed new friendships and planned a summer barbeque.

The Forest Grove Police Department welcomes anyone who would like more Neighborhood Watch information. Your Community Service Officers would like to hear from every existing Neighborhood Watch Group and anyone who has an interest in starting one by Jan. 24 to update our contact information.

- Forest Grove Community Service Officer Theresa Kohl can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.