Central Kitsap's Olympic High School tries to increase parent participation

Olympic High School is preparing for its second town hall meeting, a concept Principal Bob Barnes said he came up with as an effort to increase communication with parents.

"I want the parents in our community to feel like we're open and listening to their ideas, thoughts and concerns," Barnes said.

The next meeting will be Monday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the library and parents, students, staff and community members are invited.

Barnes noted that holding the open public meeting, one with no formal agenda, puts him and other school administrators in front of parents who might have hard questions.

"It was a little bit of a gamble, I wasn't sure how it was going to go," Barnes said, adding that some of the parents that attended the first meeting in January asked him tough questions regarding school operations. "It's a bit risky because you don't know what's going to come up at a public meeting."

Bruce Richards, Central Kitsap School District board member, attended the January meeting along with more than 15 parents and students.

Barnes said Olympic is the only school in the district to hold such meetings with the public.

Because there is no agenda, Barnes said most topics of conversation are welcome, except when it concerns individual students or employees of the school.

"It's certainly not a forum for an individual grievance about something," he said.

He said topics discussed included dress code, school boundaries and student athletes' academic progress.

Barnes said he hopes the town halls will be platforms to clarify any unanswered questions parents have about the school.

"Sometimes it's really hard to know what people think about how the school is operating," he said.

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