Oak Park PTO Council gets healthy response from survey

Group hopes to gauge parents' concerns about middle school climate

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Nearly 300 parents at Brooks and Julian middle schools in Oak Park participated in an online survey over the last two weeks on how they feel about the climate at their two schools.

The survey was sponsored by the District 97 PTO Council, an umbrella organization representing parents in Oak Park's public elementary and middle schools. The group also serves as a liaison between the district and the PTOs at all 10 schools.

The survey concluded last Friday with a total of 273 parents from both schools participating. The PTO Council will host a forum at Brooks, 325 S. Kenilworth, on Tuesday, March 6, seeking parents' input about their schools' climate. The group is planning a forum in April as well, focused on education and curriculum at the middle schools.

"Parents are concerned about their kids' middle school experience," said Libbey Paul, co-president of the PTO Council. Over the years, she added, parents have talked about some of their concerns, like not feeling welcome in the schools or poor communication with parents. Paul explained that the survey was a way to get more quantitative data from parents.

The online survey included questions about how effective the middle schools are in dealing with unwanted behavior by students, and if clear expectations are being set within the building. The document went live three weeks ago and concluded at midnight last Friday.

Maggie Testore, co-president of the PTO Council, said the idea for the survey began with two D97 parents talking about their children's experience at their middle school. That grew into conducting a survey and hosting a forum to engage more parents. Paul and Testore said the survey and forum are parent-driven and not a district initiative. Both D97 parents said their middle school experience has been good but noted some parents feel differently experiences.

They said that while there are concerns about each school, the council is not focused so much on what's negative about the two middle schools as what's positive and how that can be enhanced.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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