Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Putnam County to Pay Parents for Part-Time Work in Schools; Program's Goal Is to Encourage Parents to Get More Involved

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Putnam County to Pay Parents for Part-Time Work in Schools; Program's Goal Is to Encourage Parents to Get More Involved

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA

Palatka High School is taking a new approach to getting parents more involved in their children's school.

They're paying them.

The school began hiring parents this week to work a couple of hours a day, up to five days a week, in the lunchroom.

Parents aren't there to serve meat and veggies. They are there to serve as role models, talk to students about what's on their mind and, when possible, help redirect students' attention when it looks like there could be some trouble.

Principal Deborah Decubellis said she hopes the program will encourage the parents to get more involved in the school.

Plus, she said it will also help free up at least one administrator to do more coaching with teachers in their classrooms and guidance counselors who need to give a little extra attention to a student.

At least 10 administrators, deans or staffers who don't have an assigned classroom are in the cafeteria between 10:45 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. for two lunch shifts.

Decubellis is looking for about 10 parents to join them for nine weeks. The school will then look for additional parents for two more nine-week periods this school year.

The parents are asked to commit for nine weeks and work two hours a day, up to six hours a week. They will be paid $12 an hour.

The Putnam County School Board approved spending about $25,000 from federal stimulus money to pay the parents and also for a training program. Many districts employ people who have children who attend schools, but no other local districts reported a program similar to the new one in Putnam.

A nonprofit group, Communities in Schools of Putnam County, is being paid about $3,550 to train the parents and help manage the program in the school. That includes helping find the parents. The agency will give parents a refresher course on working in schools, including being on time, dressing appropriately in a workplace and how to model good behavior for students, said Sandra Hartley, executive director for the agency. …

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