Speaking their minds: A PTO in Nashua, N.H. is pushing back on a service organization heading up “The Big Day of Serving’’ event, which involves more than two dozen renovation projects, including a school playground, because volunteers are required to pay a $39 participation fee. The Mount Pleasant Elementary School PTO was quoted saying it wanted very much to contribute, but it “can’t possibly ask our families who have already contributed so much toward this to now turn around and pay to volunteer their time.’’ The PTO reported it already worked at fundraising for the new playground. The event director said the faith-based group needed to charge because “The Big Day of Serving”” is a “mission project,’’ not simply a volunteer opportunity. The group is providing t-shirts and a block party and also needed funds to cover marketing and administrative costs.
PTOs adapt for working-parents population: Several PTO volunteers from Boyertown, Penn., said leaders are coming up with clever ways to boost involvement because so many families are busier than ever before. One idea: host a Saturday afternoon event (and make it compelling and fun, like a Mad Hatter Tea Party) to get more working parents to attend with their kids. Also, one PTO leader said it’s critical to get the principal to support the PTO’s work and promote its cause to parents, especially new ones who sometimes need coaxing to get involved.
Social media impact: Some PTOs are on the fence about Facebook and Twitter, wondering how these online sites can really help them. One PTA recently gave the lowdown on how Facebook helped it get the word out on a district budget hearing, enabling lots of parents to participate. “We wanted to make sure people got the word out to other schools,” said Kiki Flaig, the PTA president at Ruckersville Elementary School, in the news article. “We just started putting information out there.” Within a week of posting, more than 1,500 people had visited the Facebook page of this PTA from Ruckersville, Va.