Parent teacher organizations rev up for new year
As the new school year begins, parent-teacher organizations across Summit County are holding their first meetings of the year, setting goals, examining the annual budget and getting ready for another year. From buying lunch for teacher conferences to volunteering during registration week, parents are figuring out their own ways of getting involved with the local school districts.
At the local level, mini-grants and volunteering are major components of parent-teacher organizations, where parents will donate time or money in an effort to improve the overall quality of their children’s school.
Cindy Vernon, the newly-elected PTO president of Ecker Hill Middle School, first got involved with the PTO when her children were in elementary school. Moving up to the middle school, Vernon said her reasoning for getting and staying involved was her way of giving something back to the school and the teachers that are educating her children.
"It is an investment into the kids and the teachers," Vernon said. "We’re frugal as a group of parents and we put as much as we can back into the school and educating students. This is a way to invest in your students."
The PTA for Ecker Middle School has donated sheep eyes for biology dissections, a green screen to the audio/visual department and socials for students to attend.
For parent and Park City High School Parent/Teacher/Student Organization President Kelly Thomas, that means organizing annual events that involve the community such the Docudrama warning high school students of the dangers of drinking and driving, donating money to buy new projectors, computer software or cameras and hosting the end-of-year Seniors Party as a graduation present.
"My philosophy about the PTSO is that we are there to support teachers and kids," she said. "I think our biggest goal is very simple: provide money or volunteers to support special programs and even normal lessons, add that little bit of enrichment. We’ve even bought calculators for kids who needed them before."
Thomas said the PTSO offers a way to fill in the gaps with small budget needs of the school, with most of the organization’s budget filtering into classrooms in a variety of ways.
The Parent Teacher Association, a century-old group with levels from local to national, is different from a Parent Teacher Organization, which focuseds strictly at the school level and represents most of the schools in Summit County. Local groups that choose to join the PTA pay dues to the state and national organizations and agree to the state and national group rules. PTO is considered a more generic term representing groups that choose to be independent of the PTA.
The Parent Teacher Association does more than what most parents see at the local level. Every year, the state PTA hosts a meeting to determine the big issues that year and possible legislative action that may be on the docket. Nationally, the PTA has lobbied on topics ranging from special needs education to child safety to better training for teachers.
"We hold a convention every year on ways parents want us to lobby at Legislature," said Linda Hansen, the region vice president for the PTA. "We’re working on next year’s right now, on what we’re going to present. We’ve working on idle-free zones and Common Core support. From the National PTA President down to the local level, we are all volunteers who want to make education in this country better."
For information on your local PTO/PTA, visit the appropriate school website where links for the organization may be hosted or call the school directly for contact information.
Park City School District PTA/O Contacts:
Park City High School PTSO: Kelly Thomas at email@example.com
Treasure Mountain Middle School PTSO: Kara Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ecker Hill Middle School PTO: email@example.com
Jeremy Ranch Elementary School PTO: Riki Case at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Carcy Tsandes at email@example.com
Mcpolin Elementary School PTO: Susan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org
Parley’s Park Elementary PTA: Carol Walasek at email@example.com
Trailside elementary School PTA: LeeAnne Feddersen at firstname.lastname@example.org
South Summit School District PTO Contacts:
South Summit Elementary PTO: Hilary Diamond at email@example.com
South Summit High School PTO: Call the high school directly at 435-783-4313.
North Summit School District PTA/SA Contacts:
North Summit Elementary PTA: Chelsea Judd at firstname.lastname@example.org
North Summit Middle School PTA: Holly Gibson at email@example.com
North Summit High School PTSA: Call the high school directly at 435-336-5656.
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Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, has died, the municipal government said. Erickson was involved at some level in nearly all the major decisions regarding growth and development in Park City since the early 1990s.