W-PAC seeks to be a voice in the community
In the wake of the elementary school reconfiguration in the Windsor Unified School District, a new parents’ group has emerged to help bring a voice and communication to parents and the community. The Windsor Parent Action Committee or W-PAC will be holding its first meeting on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 5:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome to attend.
According to a statement from W-PAC, it sees itself as “a group of parents that want connection and communication. It’s an informal group that gets together once a month to discuss topics and programs in our elementary schools including both Mattie Washburn (K-2) and Brooks Elementary (3-5). Our agenda is to assemble, information share and mobilize as needed to support our students and the Windsor School District.”
The monthly meetings will take the form of community forums, featuring a mix and mingle section, a communication portion for members of the district or community to make pre-approved announcements or calls to action, a guest speaker discussing a Topic of the Month.
The final item of the forum is called Communication Out, wherein “the last 30 minutes of every meeting will include an ‘action/impact discussion.’ The group collectively lists solutions or points of input on the monthly topic. The W-PAC leadership committee takes the top impacts and communicates them to school principals, site councils, the superintendent and the WUSD school board after every forum. If there is an item that needs advocacy at the school board level, the W-PAC leadership committee will speak on behalf of the group at the next board meeting. The idea is to provide the district with a continuous ‘pulse of the parents’ and cultivate a two-way dialog. The action is the most important piece because it is the parent platform and voice,” according to a statement from W-PAC.
Christine Schunk, who has children at both Mattie and Brooks, was part of the six parents who initially formed W-PAC and she is now part of the seven-person leadership team. She sees the group as a conduit for communication.
“Last year when the reconfiguration was announced a group of parents in the district came together and realized there was a need for a more open flow of communication between the district and the larger community and parents,” Schunk said. “But, there was also a need for parents to have an outlet to come together. We have some phenomenal organizations in our district, like the WE Foundation and C-Star but they’re really focused on fundraising and we didn’t have that community forum to come together. We saw this gap within our school community and started coming together and meeting once monthly.”
From those initial informal get-together W-PAC was born.
“We’ve talked a lot about it and where we’ve landed is that the whole objective is to present a monthly speaker series that connects Windsor schools to parents and the community, including business and civic leaders,” said Schunk. “We want to provide a platform. The seven of us came together from different backgrounds, and not one of us can solve any of these larger issues alone. We can provide a channel or a platform. We are here to connect the right stakeholders together so we can come together.”
Superintendent Brandon Krueger will be the first guest speaker on Sept. 19.
“He’s going to talk about reconfiguration because that’s what started this whole thing,” Schunk said. “It’s a hot topic within the schools as we figure out bumps in the road and we want to provide him and parents a way to connect and talk and support each other.”
However, Schunk views this topic as just a launching pad for the organization.
“Reconfiguration is the reason we started, but it’s not the last thing. Things come up with the day-to-day of raising kids. There will be a lot of topics that parents want to come together on that teachers and district can help with,” she said.
The next meeting will take place on Oct. 22, and the new principals of Brooks and Mattie will be the speakers, covering topics such as Responsive Classroom, the social-emotional learning program, as well as learning and childhood development. According to Schunk, future topics could include cyber safety and raising kids in a digital world.
While the founding and focus of W-PAC is the elementary schools, they are quick to point out that they are open to hearing from anyone in the district, even if their kids have aged out of the elementary ranks.
“A lot of the topics might be more focused on elementary students and we had to start somewhere but absolutely anyone with a student in the district is welcome to attend,” Schunk said. “Community leaders, teachers, anyone is welcome. The topics right now will focus on things going on at the elementary level, but we see this as fluid and evolving. We are looking for input. If there is a topic people want to speak on, we’re looking for speakers. We’re trying to get all the right parties in a room together.”
Meetings begin at 5:30 p.m., but attendees are encouraged to come when it works for them, in a “drop in/leave early” format. The Sept. 19 meeting will be at Charlie’s Restaurant at the Windsor Golf Club.
For more information on W-PAC and upcoming meetings, email WindsorPac1@gmail.com or find them on Facebook and Instagram.