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Another Staff/PTO relationship Problem

23 years 3 months ago #62974 by jsbenn
Replied by jsbenn on topic RE: Another Staff/PTO relationship Problem
Our school is 800 students strong. Our PTO meetings average 8 to 10. At the beginning of our school year, we posted a meeting signup sheet at the teacher's mailboxes asking them to attend one meeting. Generally speaking, we have had 1 or more teachers present at each meeting. Sometimes the group that comes does so because they have a need. We welcome that.

We have found a common goal school wide in our desparate need for playground equipment. On any given day when you drive into our school, students will be playing on the bare front parking lot. There is playground equipment in the back, but the biggest problem is "improper" surfacing and janitorial staff that doesn't want to deal with dirt on their carpets. We have worked well together to raise enough money to buy the first big piece. We are still discussing the surfacing issue.

We also did one fundraiser this year with our sixth grade that raised enough money for them all to go to Chicago for a day. Yahoo!
Everyone loved that result and support was united on all fronts.

Even though we celebrate these common victories, we as parents still feel alienated. Administration requires that each volunteer (parents included) submit their fingerprints annually to the state police for a criminal background check at the volunteer's expense. It's only $10/year, but basically tells us that we really aren't wanted in school. They will let us raise money and find good ways to spend it that we do agree with, and yet don't consider us worthy to be in their school. I know sounds like an exaggeration, but at times, it feels accurate. So...we get our fingerprints, pay our $10, keep our faces in there and try to do what we can.
23 years 4 months ago #62973 by Dottie
Replied by Dottie on topic RE: Another Staff/PTO relationship Problem
We have trouble with teachers coming to our meetins so I ask several teachers the question as to why.... and they were truthful and I appreciated. I was basically told that alot of parents (and officers) use the PTO meeting as a parent/teacher conference. I told them that as president that I was no aware that this was going on and in the future I would ask the parent/officer to please call the school and set up a time to discuss this with the teacher. Our teachers have been helpful in the past when we needed the help so I feel like this is one of our problem areas on getting teachers involved. But we are working on it.
23 years 4 months ago #62972 by JHB
Setting up the meetings does take a bit of diplomacy, and I'm struggling with this one myself. We have a pretty good relationship with all factors at our school - but it's not a utopia. And I do sometimes find that what the Principal tells me and what he then tells the Teachers doesn't always coincide. He wasn't overly thrilled about the first meeting. But, look at it from his side - key PTO officers want to have a meeting with his employees and he's not allowed to attend (not that we worded it that way). I don't think he really intends to censor the teachers, but he wants information funnelled through him a bit more than we prefer and there's a control issue, too. We just have to be aware of all this and try to be sensitive to all sides.

These meetings don't really require Board action, so my approach will simply to be to advise the Principal during one of our informal chats. I'll tell him what we have planned, that I want to meet with the teachers like we did last Fall. I'll ask him when the best time is to plan this so that it doesn't disrupt any administrative or staff responsibilities. Key things to discuss at the meeting would be:
1) Their perception of PTO
2) How different programs worked/didn't work -what they might like to see happen differently
3) How we are going to handle volunteers next year (anything to do with volunteers is a PTO activity - some of our new ideas didn't take root as quickly as we hoped this year)
4) What can the PTO do to make their lives easier?
5) New ideas for next year.

I do find that it helps to subtly remind the Principal that we (the PTO) think he's doing a great job with the school and in making very limited resources stretch to cover everything. I try to emphasize that this is just an opportunity for us to touch base directly with the teachers and plan accordingly. It is definitely not a mission to uncover "what's wrong with the school".

Once I talk with him and get a general timeframe (i.e., he probably doesn't want anything extra going on during our period of mandatory student testing) we'll likely set up three 1 hour meetings: Kindergarten and Special Education areas, 2nd & 3rd, and 4th & 5th.

The information we collected was so valuable last year, I'll strive to find a way to make it work again this Spring. The absolute worst case scenario - I'll set the meeting up and invite the Principal or Vice Principal to participate. It will still work, we'll just need to gather a little more info from the teachers one-on-one informally. So it will still be fine.
23 years 4 months ago #62971 by Candall
Replied by Candall on topic RE: Another Staff/PTO relationship Problem
JHB, what is the politically correct way to set up these meetings? Do you bring it up at a board meeting with the principle present and vote on it? HELP! This sounds great! We would love to be able to talk to teachers one on one but principle does not like idea!

One of the other ways brought up since this was mentioned was having a teacher sign up sheet done up at the end of this school year for next year. That way one teacher picks a meeting and that way there will always be someone present speaking for them? Thanks again for any input.
23 years 4 months ago #62970 by baffled
Replied by baffled on topic RE: Another Staff/PTO relationship Problem
I am on a fairly new PTO board and have 2 children attending the school. We have teachers that are members but very seldom do we see one at a meeting. We have always had their support and help. My concern is the principal. Right now the PTO wants to be involved in a policy change. To work with the teachers and act as a true PTO. However, the principal is not telling both sides the truth. Some teachers feel that we are a linch mob. That we want to tell them what we want changed and how it's going to work. Some parents feel that the principal thinks we are stupid and couldn't help solve the issue at hand. The principal seems to be telling different parties involved different things. I'm afraid that this is going to seperate the teachers even more from the parents, and the PTO won't receive the support they have been. I'm just so baffled by how this all got out of hand. The PTO started so inicently, trying to make a bridge between the parents and teachers to make our school a better place for our children.
23 years 4 months ago #62969 by JHB
I think we generally have a good relationship between PTO, teachers, and administration at our school. However, no environment is perfect and there's always a bit of "us versus them" (i.e., teachers versus principal) in any working sitution. So, even though I think the Principal is a great conduit of information, we still make it a point to interact DIRECTLY with the teachers from time to time to make sure that what both sides want is communicated. I try to touch base with teachers I see, as do others on the Board. Then, we set up a series of meetings, once in the Fall and once in the Spring with key PTO officers and teachers (no administration) to talk about what's working, what they think, what they need, etc. We generally set up a series of 1 hour meetings and do one or two grades at a time so we can focus somewhat on the needs of that part of the school. You might want to consider a meeting like for your school. I always learn a lot. Good Luck!
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