When Barbara Archer’s eldest child entered elementary school a decade ago, she remembers being “a bit shocked that the teacher had such a very small budget for classroom supplies.” Parents were asked to contribute Kleenex, Clorox wipes and other basic items.
“Then I got involved in the PTA, and started to realize how much support the PTA gives to school programs,” Archer says. “The PTA was supporting the Willett Elementary gardening program, and supported a P.E. program as well.”
Archer is now in her 10th year as an elementary school parent, and her third year as a junior high parent. She’s a past president of the Willett Elementary PTA, and currently vice president of the Da Vinci Charter Academy Booster Club.
“And I’m struck that this isn’t the PTA that I saw on TV when I growing up on programs like ‘The Brady Bunch,’ where the moms would make cookies for a bake sale,” she says. “These days, the PTA is doing things that substantively contribute to the education of our kids. Some of our PTAs are paying for staff positions at the school, or a school psychologist or supporting an after-school program.”
Joy Klineberg, past president of the Willett PTA and current vice president of the Holmes Junior High PTA, said that at some schools, the organization has helped fund the installation of wireless technology for computer networks.
Andi Carr is president of SIPAT (Spanish Immersion Parents and Teachers) at Chávez Elementary. SIPAT supports parent education activities, an art program, a music appreciation program, a school choir, a garden program, a “positive play” program and more.
“We raise and spend money for a lot of important things,” Carr says. “And if you want to have a voice, you need to be involved. I think most parents want to have a voice in where their school’s PTA money goes.”
Pam Pacelli, president of the Emerson Junior High PTA, said there are also scrip programs linked to grocery stores and other retailers that raise substantial finds at several schools, as well as solicitation fundraisers.
“And don’t forget that many PTAs give teacher grants,” Pacelli says. “We want to give (teachers) things they need. And we like to have teacher participation, too. It is a Parent Teacher Association, after all.”
“People who are in the PTA care about what’s happening with all the kids on campus,” Klineberg says. To which Archer adds, “The PTA makes decisions that affect every kid on campus.”
Of course, it isn’t just a matter of money.
“A lot of people contribute man hours,” Klineberg says. “Every hour of the school day, somebody (from the PTA) is doing something. ”
Says Archer, “It isn’t all about money. It’s also about character, and giving back to your community. It can be a garden project, or a community cleanup day. There are all kinds of things that help build pride in your campus.”
Carr adds, “It depends on each parent’s skill set or their gift. There’s a way they can help that’s going to build the community and make your child’s school a little more enriched.”
So Pacelli, Carr, Klineberg and Archer urge parents — meaning dads, as well as moms — to get in touch with their PTA and find a way to help that fits in with their skills, interests and time availability. Here’s a list of websites for local PTAs and other parent groups:
* Birch Lane Elementary PTA: http://www.birchlanepta.org/novo
* Chávez Elementary SIPAT: www.ccesipat.com
* Da Vinci Charter Academy Booster Club (grades 7-12): www.davinciboosters.net
* Davis High School PTA: www.dhspta.org
* Emerson Junior High PTA: http://groups.dcn.org/ejhpta
* Fairfield Elementary: contact school
* Korematsu Elementary PTO: www.korematsupto.org
* Harper Junior High PTO: http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/hjh
* Holmes Junior High PTA: http://groups.dcn.org/harperpto
* Montgomery Elementary PTA: http://mmepta.org
* North Davis Elementary PTA: www.ndepta.com
* Patwin Elementary PTA: www.patwinelementary.org
* Pioneer Elementary: www.pioneerelementarypta.com
* Willett Elementary PTA: www.willetpta.org
— Reach Jeff Hudson at email@example.com or 530-747-8055.