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More involved than ever

In recent months, we have decried the lack of community and parent involvement in the education process in Suffolk.

We have reported that only a small percentage of parents participated in an important survey coordinated by Suffolk Public Schools and praised school officials for soliciting such information from the parents.

It appears Thursday’s public comment session before the School Board drew more attendance, more scrutiny and more information than the School Board may have ever wanted.

As part of its budget process, the board invited public comments at an event hosted at King’s Fork High School. What resulted was an overwhelming turnout, forcing the Fire Marshal’s Office to remove some of those in attendance.

What the board heard was a passionate plea by hundreds of parents, students and other residents to save what they consider to be crucial school programs in the face of pending budget cuts.

Parents cited their child’s involvement in art and music courses as reasons that sons or daughters remained interested in school or excelled in other courses. They heard from concerned mothers about the likelihood of their children being herded with others into overcrowded classrooms where teachers would face added discipline and educational challenges.

Based on recent history, it appeared school leaders underestimated the concern that parents would show and misjudged the passion many have for their children’s education.

The job before school administrators and board members to balance a treacherous budget is not one that most folks would envy. But the task is theirs, and so is the responsibility.

They must find a way to provide quality education with limited funds. They must find things to cut without damaging the education experience or results.

Thursday’s session proved the community demands quality education and may now be interested in becoming much more involved in the process.