We Are SOS: Saving Our Schools for Future Generations by Jodi Bortz

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We are SOS

We are the moms.

And the dads.

We are citizens concerned for the economic future of our County.

We are parents fighting for the best possible education for our children.

We are SOS.

We came together in 2015, a small group of parents who decided to ask if our County could be doing better—to put its best foot forward, to make the most of present opportunities, to optimize economic growth, and to invest in the schools responsible for educating its future.

We gathered questions and sought answers. We did our research, poring over budgets, comparing Kent County’s spending practices and priorities to those of other counties, talking directly with members of the School Board, and appealing directly to our County Commissioners to explain their thinking—all in the interest of gaining a clear and transparent understanding of how our county conducts its business.

Our conclusion was that, as much as Kent County is doing well, there are definite areas in which we could be doing better. It has been the mission of SOS to serve as an information and advocacy resource for others who are interested in knowing how our county functions—and how certain targeted changes might propel us toward an even brighter future.

There is considerable interest in the issues we have explored and the information we provide.

After 2 short years, our Facebook group is 1,400 members strong. Our members are parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, former teachers, former students, and anyone else with an interest in the positive promotion of Kent County Public Schools. We strive to be a reliable source for anyone in search of accurate information—from school policies to annual budgets to what time school ends on an early dismissal day. We have spent countless hours over the last few years providing answers to specific questions, connecting people to resources, informing the community about important meetings and events, sharing stories of student success, and promoting our schools to new families.

We do this every day. Because our schools are run by people who care deeply about the children of this county, and they deserve the best support we can offer.

But that is not all we do…

We have designed, printed, and distributed materials for realtors to use for promoting our schools to families considering a move to Kent County.

We have raised more than $9,000 in two years through our Random Acts of Kindness campaign—funds that help fill unfortunate gaps in school funding. Additionally, we promote the fundraisers our County’s teachers’ must run in order to purchase the supplies they need to meet their students educational needs.

We have spearheaded a parent letter-writing campaign to Governor Hogan in support of our Board of Education’s request for gap funding for our schools.

During last year’s bus crisis, we created the Facebook equivalent of a phone tree that parents could use to safely and securely share information about what time their child had been picked up and when the next house could expect the bus. We provided this service for every school in our County, every morning and afternoon for several weeks until the bus issues were resolved.

One of our founders is a team leader for Strong Schools Maryland, a grassroots State advocacy group that meets with State representatives and promotes the importance of the Kirwan Commission findings.

Another of our founders is a parent representative for SECAC, the Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Having a special needs child gives her the experience and knowledge needed to be a powerful advocate for parents of special needs children throughout our district.

Another of our founders is running for a seat on the Kent County Board of Education—motivated by a desire to contribute her data-minded approach to the decision-making process that will determine the future of our schools (and the future of our children).

We attend County Commissioner meetings whenever we’re not busy attending soccer games or helping our kids with homework or running our small businesses. We bring our kids with us sometimes if we can’t get a sitter. We have created a video archive of these meetings so that anyone who wants to be a part of our county government process by staying informed can view them.

We go to Board of Ed meetings and learn about all the incredibly positive things that our schools and students are doing and share that information with our Facebook community. We also share the struggles that our schools are facing without adequate funding, so that people can vividly understand the liabilities of our Commissioners’ current funding priorities.

We do not get paid to do any of this. We do this because we care. We do this because the need is urgent. We do this because we see a way forward that includes a well-funded, prosperous school system. We do this because good schools benefit not just our families, but because an educated community benefits everyone that lives in it. And because a thriving (and well-regarded) public school system is an instrumental component to putting Kent County’s foot forward as we endeavor to stimulate business growth, attract new families, and thrive in decades to come.

If you have ever been a parent who would never miss an opportunity to do what was best for your kids and your community, then you are SOS, too.

Jodi Bortz is a board member of SOS and the Support Our Schools Initiative. For more informatione please visit our website www.kcpssos.com or Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/kentcountyschooldistrictparents/

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Phil Ticknor says:

    I am SOS.

  2. Francoise Sullivan says:

    I am SOS.

  3. #IAmSOS

  4. Carla Massoni says:

    I am SOS.

  5. Holli Mathison says:

    I think it is good to recognize that although much of the information obtained and shared through SOS is relevant only to current families (such as the bus schedules) people without children in KCPS are also vital to the organization. I am between being a mom of school-age kids and a grand mom of them, but I still benefit from what I learn on this site. Anyone with ties to Kent County can help improve life here by supporting the schools, families, and especially the students and teachers.
    I AM SOS

    • Nathan Shroyer says:

      What an excellent and positively supportive response. I believe that there are many seats still to be filled at “community stakeholder tables” in Kent County.

  6. Piers Heriz-Smith says:

    I am SOS

  7. Jessica Machuga says:

    I am SOS

  8. Jennifer Sagar says:

    I AM SOS.

  9. Ben Tilghman says:

    I am SOS.

    Just as this statement makes clear, I am SOS not just for the sake of my children, but for the benefit of everyone in our great community.

  10. Gren Whitman says:

    I am SOS!
    The commissioners can’t refuse to fund KCPS in full and then be considered credible when they boast, “we’re for economic development.”
    An excellent public school system is a pre-requisite to economic development, not vice versa.

  11. Robbi Behr says:

    My fellow co-founders of SOS have worked relentlessly to investigate, inform, and advocate to bring education and budget issues to the forefront of conversations in our County. I have heard from certain corners that SOS has a “bad reputation,” but I have never seen first hand such grit, intelligence, get-er-done-ism and grace in speaking truth to power as I have with my co-founders – shaking off finger-wagging, dismissal and disapproval with a healthy dose of humor. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this group. #IamSOS

  12. I am SOS.

    The facts are there. A superior public school system, regardless of size, is economic development. Without a superior public school system, we cannot have a successful economic development effort.

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