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Parents group supports gifted education program

2012-01-05T00:00:00Z 2012-01-25T00:04:38Z Parents group supports gifted education programBy ALANA LISTOE Independent Record Helena Independent Record
January 05, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A group of parents is meeting tonight to talk about how they can support the gifted and talented education program in the Helena Public Schools.

The meeting, the group’s second, is at 5 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark Library meeting room. Organizer Monica Tranel says the meeting is for parents and advocates of gifted education in Helena. But it’s not limited to just parents whose children are involved with school district’s PEAK program.

Tranel says she felt the program was being unfairly attacked after local resident Sarah Sullivan voiced concerns about the program at a school board meeting last fall. Sullivan’s concerns, and those of other local parents, were included in a story about the PEAK program in the Independent Record.

Sullivan says the gifted and talented program should be more academically rigorous. She says in today’s economy, public schools need to use money wisely and school officials should look closely at the effectiveness of the current program, which has a budget of $318,029.

Other parents, including Rikki Read, say the program serves children well and no changes are needed.

Read says the program has been great for her daughter, Regan, a fifth-grader who has been in PEAK since third grade. She describes her daughter as a bookworm and a bit of an introvert. The program not only helps socially, Read says, but provides deeper knowledge in certain subject areas.

The meeting tonight is open to the public. 

Tranel, whose daughter is also in the program, says the group will try to develop goals.

“We want to say we feel strongly about gifted education, and that the model that’s in place right now, given the funding, is a good one,” Tranel said.

Sullivan says she plans to attend the meeting to try to open discussion about ways to make the program better.

“The reason I am attending the meeting is to, hopefully, dispel the myth that I am opposed to having a gifted and talented program, because I am not,” she wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon. “My concerns have to do with the delivery method of gifted programming at the elementary level. This should not be a divisive issue but rather an opportunity to create a better program with the money we have.” 

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or

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