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The PTO Needs You

It's not a mysterious enclave. Get in there and get your hands dirty!

I went to my first PTO meeting last week at the Roberts Elementary School, where I have a kindergartener and first grader. This was the Parent Teacher Organization's first meeting of the year; the one meeting you can predict the greatest attendance.

There were 20-odd people.

Comparing notes with a parent who also has a child at Brooks Elementary, I learned that Brooks had a similar turn-out. Both Brooks and Roberts have about 600 students. So you have to suppose at least 1000 parents in that catchment, of which maybe 25 were present.

Granted, with little advance notice and the work/childcare schedules of today's families, it's harder than ever to get to a PTO meeting. Folks, the PTO needs your love.

It is their goal to provide enrichment for the students. Enrichment takes many forms, from books, to field trip buses, to family events, to afterschool programming. They provide all of this from the PTO's fundraisers.

Say what you will about the ubiquitous fundraisers that come home, they are the primary funding for those enrichment activities. There's the rub.

If you don't like it, then don't stand on the sidelines. The people I met at that meeting were regular folks. No one was poised to stand in the way of initiative. They were doing what they knew worked.

The PTO has hit the ground running. At Roberts there is an Ice Cream Social on October 19 (for which they need volunteers), the first fundraiser just wrapped up, and another will roll out in November.

So jump in where you are, Medford. The PTO needs you.

Jane Hamel October 13, 2011 at 01:45 AM
I look forward to public meeting minutes being shared on the website and through the email list, so that even those parents who can not physically attend a meeting, can be aware of the happenings and find viable ways to participate and contribute.
Miss Mary Mack October 13, 2011 at 04:19 PM
The Roberts is the largest elemenary school in Medford. Here are my top reasons why the Roberts PTO has lower relative turn out compared to the Brooks: 1. Roberts is a more diverse community than the Brooks, and last I checked the PTO notice only went out in English. I bet there is a larger % fluent English speaking parents at the Brooks than at the Roberts. Nobody wanted to attend a meeting where you cannot be understood or you can not understand. 2. Higher % of parents at Brooks have typical 9-to-5 jobs to simplify the "one parent stays home with the kids" scenario PTO meetings necessitate 3. You state above that the Roberts PTO will have had three fundraisers by November, the third month of school. What else to parents know about the Roberts PTO? I suspect donor fatigue already.
Michael Gagne October 13, 2011 at 06:49 PM
Miss Mary, I do believe you were missing the point Adrienne was trying to make. She was not comparing the two schools PTO's or the parent's or the supposed cultural differences you reference, rather she was pointing out that it doesn't matter the school, the PTO numbers are extremely low everywhere and it's very concerning. I feel pretty confident that that is the point seeing that I'm the parent that she is referring to (yes I have a child at the Brooks) and I'm the parent she was sitting with at the Robert's PTO meeting (yes I have a child at the Robert's also). I pointed out the numbers and I found them ridiculously low at both schools and I'm guessing all the schools. And just for the record, your reasons aren't really reasons, they're excuses. If you feel that the language barrier is the #1 problem maybe you should come to the PTO meeting and point out that they should consider printing the news letter in different languages. I'm also curious how far this potential problem goes.....does Mr. Johnson do bi-lingual announcements over the PA so the kids will understand or do the kids understand English where they can assist their parents in understanding the letters sent home? Also, there's a recession so life isn't any easier on the other side of town when it comes to work. And lastly, if you're suspecting donor fatigue....I would venture to guess you have no idea what and where the money goes. The schools need the fundraising for.....OUR kids.

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