Families & the Community

North Carolina District Takes Bus to Neighborhoods To Get Parents Involved

By Sarah Tully — May 20, 2016 1 min read
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A North Carolina school district was having trouble getting parents to school. So, officials decided to drive to them instead.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools runs its own Parent Involvement Mobile Unit—a renovated school bus with eight computers, a television, desks, and even a long seat in the back for child care. The district estimates that it has reached between 1,000 and 2,000 families in the year since the bus started rolling out to neighborhoods, parks, churches, and wherever it is welcome, said Javier Correa-Vega, a transportation supervisor for the district.

Correa-Vega was a parent-involvement coordinator at a middle school when he realized that it was hard to get parents to the school for activities because they lacked transportation, gas, and time. So, he and his colleague at the sister elementary came up with the idea of using a bus.

“If they cannot come to us, we go to them,” Correa-Vega said in an interview with Education Week’s K-12 Parents and the Public.

The district secured a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s Home Improvement, as well as another $6,000 grant from the Winston-Salem Federal Credit Union, to start the project. The schools purchased a retired bus from the district fleet and got students from the district’s career center to do a full remodel.

While the bus at first was used by just two schools, now schools from the entire district can use it. The bus can be used for meetings, classes, and distributing information. It’s still painted yellow and looks like a school bus so officials can teach bus safety, as well.

Soon, organizers plan on using the bus for kindergarten registration.

“They love it,” Correa-Vega said about the parents. “They have a piece of school on wheels going to their neighborhoods. Because the kids and our own students built it, it’s something special. For us, it’s state of the art because the kids did it.”

See a Winston-Salem Journal story about the parent involvement bus.

Do you know of other schools that use buses for parent outreach? Are there other creative ways that schools go out to neighborhoods? Let us know by sending an email or writing in the comment section.

Read more about home-visiting programs in this Education Week article.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.