Superintendent Joshua Starr made a visit to CHS Feb. 3 as part of his yearly visits to each MCPS school cluster. Starr’s visit contained three parts: a dinner with the principals from throughout the cluster, a coffee and dessert portion with PTSA members from throughout the county and an evening with a town hall forum open to all members of the MCPS community.
Starr has been superintendent for two-and-a-half-years, and this is his second year hosting town hall meetings. He also hosts town halls specifically for students.
“I think it is a great idea that Dr. Starr does community nights like this because it’s a great way to touch base with students, staff and executives,” said Kevin Lowndes, MCPS Director for the High School Office of School Support and Improvement.
The PTSA meeting featured several high-ranking PTSA members discussing problems from their various schools. During the meeting, executive board members compared what they have been seeing at the county level with what principals and PTSA members have been seeing at the individual school level.
“I think it is good for folks to get together to inform board members of issues they find important and to discuss issues with principals and PTSA members,” Board of Education president Philip Kauffman said.
The evening was topped off with a town hall event, which was open to everyone and allowed time for questions. Topics such as the hiring and firing of coaches, Common Core education standards and artificial turf were popular topics brought up among the group gathered at CHS.
CHS parent Diana Conway has attended multiple town hall meetings with Starr, and while she likes the premise of the meetings, she was disappointed in Starr’s response.
“On one hand I feel like it is a great bringing together of the community, and people get to network, but on the other hand I felt that Dr. Starr’s responses were unhelpful because they did not address the questions,” Conway said.
Throughout his responses to questions, Starr continuously reiterated a few standards he found important.
“Our kids must continue to succeed academically,” Starr said. “Our kids should not only be good students but also good people.”
The next town hall meeting is April 28 at Paint Branch High School. Starr plans to continue them as long as he is superintendent.
“The idea of the community day in general is for Dr. Starr to meet everyone and see what parents, students and teachers are thinking within that cluster,” Public Information Director Dana Tofig said.