PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association. If you are new to the school, sometimes PTAs can seem somewhat nebulous. Are there really any teachers that are part of it or is it just parents? What does PTA do? Why do we even have one? And why should I join the PTA? etc. Here’s a quick summary:
The National PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the US. It was started over 100 years ago and has founded programs such as universal kindergarten, hot lunch programs, immunizations, etc. Under the national umbrella, each state has it’s own PTA, then it rolls down to each individual local school.
What does that mean on Mercer Island?
Every school has it’s own PTA which includes: Lakeridge, Island Park, West Mercer, the newly-formed Northwood, IMS, and MIHS. If you have kids in different schools, this sometimes leads to confusion when you’ve joined one PTA and think you’re covered, but you actually should join each school’s PTA.
Why should I join and what exactly does joining mean?
Joining the PTA does NOT mean you are actually serving on the board or volunteering for some event. It just means you’ve contributed your annual $30(or so) family membership fee. This fee is conveniently collected on the Lakeridge back-to-school form where you pay for everything else (field trips, class fees, etc). You’ll see a line item for PTA membership in that form you’ll get in August.
Once you join, you get a handy directory that gives you a list of everyone in the school, you get discounts on various events, but the most important reason rolls up to the national level…it’s along the lines of the one voice for every child. It’s a way to collectively influence decisions that affect our children as a whole.
What does the PTA do?
PTA is not just a group of parents discussing happenings at the school. We are actually governed by bylaws, we have a budget, and we are responsible for making sure we abide by the rules and financial responsibilties directed to us by the national and state level PTAs. At Lakeridge, we actually run a budget that is up to $300,000. So, with that much money comes a lot of responsibility. For a list of all the activities PTA provides, see our Fundraising Page. INSERT LINK
In addition to running all sorts of programs that the district can’t fund, we have committed to fund a certain number of learning support hours. So, while it’s not actually paying for teachers, we are paying for staff that support the teachers. We also fund a number of stipends that are paid to teachers for supplemental programs. The board meets monthly and reviews various issues that comes up and will try to fund programs or things that come up that the district can’t cover.