Our View: New technology, parent support key in tough economy

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It’s a partnership. That’s how Dave Horsey, Placer Union High School District superintendent, described the relationship between students, parents, teachers and administrators. Placer Union is charged with educating local high school students with $6 million less, this school year. But not to complain, and not to worry, the schools appear up to the job. Placer Union this year features exciting new technology that will help everyone work together for a common goal — our children’s education. Horsey explained that while not thrilled with the budget cuts, he isn’t about to whine, either. They are going to make the best of it. Horsey mentioned Algebra classes, which previously had one teacher for every 20 students. This year that ratio is more like 35-1, he said. “That’s your foundational math class that everything else hinges on,” Horsey said. “If you don’t have a concrete foundation in Algebra, you’ll hit a wall in Algebra II.” Despite the budgetary challenges, it is possible to get a great education at Placer, Colfax, Del Oro, Foresthill, Chana and Maidu high schools. Especially if parents get involved and help their kids stay on track. Through the brand-new Parent Portal Web pages, parents can do just that. “A parent will be able to get their student’s portal with their password,” Horsey said. “They can access student grades, attendance, STAR testing results and more.” Letters are going out to parents this week explaining where to go, how to set up a password and how to gain access. Greg Ramseth, director of technology and assessment for Placer Union, even offers a how-to video to walk you through it online. “It’s a great way to go in and look at grades,” Horsey said. “You can also check progress on assignments. It’s a way to check if your kid really did them.” Another new technological resource that will be unveiled this semester is the teacher Web page. Every teacher in the Placer Union district will have his or her own Web page this year. Horsey said they will all be up and running by Back-to-School Night, which is Wednesday at Placer. The minimum posting required from each teacher will be class schedules, course outlines and assignments. You can go to your kid’s teacher’s Web page and see the assignments, supportive material, due dates and links to resources. “This is going to take a term to get the kinks out, but we’re moving forward,” Horsey said. This new technology comes as a result of parent requests and finally having the software and hardware infrastructure in place. “The school board set aside $100,000 a year in a tech endowment to pay for this,” Horsey said. He explained that the money comes from interest on an account designated for this purpose. “With teachers having larger class sizes, the more they can get support from the parents at home the better off we will be,” Horsey said. “Parents can come (to the Parent Portal) and look, but really what we want them to do is to hold their student accountable.” Parents have a huge responsibility in keeping their own children engaged in school. The students are responsible as well. As Horsey stated, it’s a partnership. Working together, with help from new technology, our local high schools can continue to thrive, despite the budget cuts. It will just take a little more effort from everyone.