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Parents join school board members for 'coffee and conversation'

Return of informal session brings back opportunity to chat about school issues

February 08, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

How to deal with disruptive children in schools and healthful food for students were among the issues discussed Tuesday night as the county school board brought back its "coffee and conversation" program.

Washington County Board of Education members used to hold the informal sessions years ago to give people a chance to chat with board members about school issues, board member Donna Brightman said.

The current board members unanimously decided to bring back the meetings as a way to give the public a chance to meet with them in a more relaxed atmosphere, Brightman said.

Coffee and cookies were offered on a table in the Washington County Technical High School cafeteria, while board members scattered across the room, chatting in small groups.

Board President Wayne Ridenour said there would be no opening statement, that they would simply let people come in whenever they wanted between 6 and 8 p.m. and meet with board members.

Shortly after the session started, several parents and board members Paul Bailey and Brightman stood chatting in a circle.

The parents expressed concern about disruptive students in classrooms, and Brightman was curious how parents dealt with the issue.

One of the parents said she went to a principal and teacher about the problem, and was told there was a mechanism to deal with it.

Bailey said parents of disruptive children need to be brought into the problem-solving process as soon as possible. He also said disruptive children can get detention.

Among the parents talking with board members was Seslie Daniels, who has two children at Pangborn Elementary School.

Daniels said she is involved in her children's educational process, such as participating in parent-teacher association groups.

"This is another step," Daniels said.

The same group of parents and board members switched their conversation to healthful food for students.

Brightman talked about serving locally grown produce in schools, while Bailey said he is concerned about what kids eat during the 90 days or so that they are off in the summer and away from schools.

About 20 people were gathered in groups about halfway through the session.

Brightman said the board has not decided when it will hold another one of the meetings. She said the board will discuss how Tuesday's meeting went among themselves.

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