When the leader of Whiteland Community High School wants to gauge reaction to changing classes or wants to know what school-related issues are concerning families, he turns to a set of parents.
The group of 22 have been discussing the high school’s grading scale, Advanced Placement courses and the new privilege-based discipline system so far this year.
The Clark-Pleasant School Board still has the final say in any changes to the grading scale or any other high school or school district policy. But Interim Principal John Schilawski wants to be sure parents have regular opportunities to speak up about changes, and that they can easily learn more about what’s happening in the school.
Besides meeting with the parent group monthly, he typically exchanges calls or emails with a few of the parents each week.
Interested in learning more about the parent partnership network? Contact interim principal John Schilawski at 535-7562.
“The school is the community. They are the stakeholders — their kids are here,” Schilawski said.
Schilawski started looking for parents to be in the group at the start of the year. The high school’s grading scale was one of the first topics discussed. Whiteland’s grading scale differs from other Johnson County and state schools and requires students to earn higher scores for the same grade — a 91.5 percent for an A-, for example.
Schilawski started researching whether Whiteland’s scale was putting students at a disadvantage when they applied for college and regularly kept parents posted on what he found. He’s planning to make a more detailed presentation to the group later this month, and Clark-Pleasant could decide to revise the scale next year, he said.
Parent groups aren’t new to Whiteland, though this is the first group the high school has had in about five years. A similar group existed in 1998 when Schilawski first came to Whiteland. That group continued for several years and ended when those parents’ students graduated. Another group that was formed about six years ago fizzled out after about a year, Schilawski said.
Other local high schools are interested in forming similar parent groups but don’t have anything in place yet.
Indian Creek High School Principal Maria Woodke said the earliest a parent group could form would be next semester, while Franklin probably won’t create a group until next year, Principal Doug Harter said.
Currently Harter meets with a total of 10 juniors and seniors at the high school once a month to discuss what at the high school is going well and what needs to be improved.
Whiteland parents are free to bring up any topics they want with Schilawski, and the group has asked about the high school’s new privilege-based discipline system. They wanted to know more about how students who earn free periods at the high school will be able to use their time, and how earning an A or a B in an Advanced Placement course increased a GPA, Schilawski said.
Schilawski said keeping the group together throughout the year so that parents continually have a say in what’s happening is important to showing the group’s success. But he’s also hopeful groups of parents will continue to meet with Whiteland’s principal, whether it’s him or someone else, for years.
“It becomes an assistance for the next principal, and even the next principal,” he said.