School director chastises administrators for being left in the dark

One of the notable qualities of Sunnyside School Board member Bill Smith is that he isn't shy about sharing his thoughts. And at last week's monthly directors meeting, Smith had plenty to share with the district administration team about a situation that arose.

Smith's concerns were brought forth when Sunnyside Executive Director of School and Community Resources Ruben Carrera was making a presentation on improving parent involvement in the schools.

Smith brought up the issue of the automated phone system that calls homes when a child is absent from a class at Sunnyside High School, on whether or not it is working.

Sunnyside High School Principal Dennis Birr interjected, saying that the system just started working, after being down all year.

Birr said the high school has been working on getting the kinks out of a new phone program that was installed, which would call families when a child was absent from class. The new computer phone program will call the home and speak in the primary language of the family.

The district is looking at having the new phone system installed at the high school, Harrison Middle School and Chief Kamiakin Elementary School, said Al Bell, who oversees the district's technology department.

Smith, though, wasn't too pleased with the fact that the school board hasn't known the phone system at the high school hasn't worked all year. Smith said he was approached by a parent, who asked him if he had known the phone system wasn't working. Smith said he didn't know that the system had been inoperable.

Carrera tried to respond by saying that the board was going to find out about the phone system. Smith pointed out that the odds of Carrera telling him about the high school phone system being down during his presentation were pretty slim. Smith said the only way he would have found out about it was asking like he did.

"It would be nice to be kept informed and I felt like we weren't," said Smith.


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