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LA Unified improving school centers to help parents parent

Mike Szymanski | October 8, 2015

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Steve Zimmer greets parents at Vine Street Elementary's new parent center

Steve Zimmer visits Vine Street Elementary’s new parent center

Now LA Unified is trying to make it fun for parents to go to school, too.

In a report by Ruth Yoon, the district’s administrator of Parent, Community and Student Services, she said 75 parent centers at schools will be renovated and updated by the end of December. Another 35 parent centers will be renovated by spring, with at least 100 more if staff approves. Those renovations will take place thanks to $20 million approved by the school board in 2011 to improve parent and family centers.

“We are providing a welcoming environment for families and inviting them to participate as equal partners in the education of their children,” said Yoon who presented her update to the Early Childhood Education and Parent Engagement Committee this week.

Some of the parent centers have new computers, some have staff people training parents, and some teach parents how to use computers and use educational websites. Applications for new renovations of parents centers ended last week, Yoon said, but schools will be able to apply for grants to update their centers next year.

Board member Scott Schmerelson, a former principal, said, “Parent Centers should not be hidden, and administrators should show true interest in the parent center.”

Schmerelson said the one at his school was not renovated, and that some are plagued with broken furniture or computers that don’t work.

Mónica Ratliff said she worried about schools that are slow to get in line first for these kinds of renovations. “Congratulations for those who are good at jumping through the hoops, but I am concerned about what happens in schools that are not good at it, and don’t get what they need.”

Yoon said that North Hollywood High School is an example of the many schools that have seen a great increase in parent involvement since the parent center was improved.

Some of the parent centers serve as a training ground for parents, with workshops that provide tips on helping with homework, understanding school budgets and teaching children discipline.

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