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Small School Challenges

15 years 11 months ago #144107 by volunteermomo3
I think that we are a small school, about 325 students, 60 PTO members and only about 10 active members. I use these ideas all the time. You just have to test them out and see what works and what doesn't. The free events are a big hit. I think you just have to see what fits best for your schools family income level and parent participation level. Good luck.
15 years 11 months ago #144080 by Mary D
Replied by Mary D on topic RE: Small School Challenges
Our school has approximately 125 students; Preschool-8th grade. We have four board members and approx a dozen parents now come to the monthly meetings. We didn't always have that many attending. My first year, we were lucky if half that many attended. I am a grandparent of a student and I am the Welcoming Coordinator for our PTO for the last two years. Since I found PTO Today and started using many of the ideas found here, we have had much more active participation and the parents are willing to volunteer for different events. We have a different event almost every month. Some events cost money and some are free. Parents enjoy free events; BooHoo/Yahoo Breakfast, Muffins with Mom/Donuts with Dad, etc and receiving small little gifts (kisses, hugs, payday candy bars) with little note of Thanks instead of always asking for money. We use the Volunteer Survey forms every year at registration and have more volunteers for the events than is always needed. We try to make sure the same volunteers aren't working all the events, giving everyone a chance to volunteer.
15 years 11 months ago #144029 by alimadi
Replied by alimadi on topic RE: Small School Challenges
Our school has approx. 240 students; K-8th grade. We have four board members and on a good day, 3-4 other active parents. It's hard to come up with fun, new & huge projects when we work our regulars non-stop. Anyone have any neat ideas we could do on a very small budget?
15 years 11 months ago #144019 by HAIS
Replied by HAIS on topic RE: Small School Challenges
Think your school is small; well we're topping enrollment @ just about 250 (9th-11th). And as for the PTO, it's me (president, secretary, treasurer) and another lady (vp). The school is 3yrs old w/somewhat economically disadvantaged students. I took on the role of pres. in January of this year, by default. This will hopefully be our very first strong PTO year as I've planned 4 major fundraisers w/miscellaneous activities throughout the year. The major fundraisers I've planned are: Fiesta Dinner in Sept. (sponsored by a local food store chain here in Houston called "Fiesta") We did this one in April and it was a success. We had to use a nearby elementary school's kitchen/cafeteria as our school doesnt have one. A store rep walked about 6 volunteer parents through cooking a Tex-Mex dinner complete with dessert. All we had to do was purchase the ingredients (Fiesta voucher) and sell the tickets set at our own price. While we cooked & prepared the food, another store rep was keeping the parents busy by doing little games and giving away food door prizes. Food brings anybody together. :) The remaining 3 fundraisers I have in mind are a fall festival, garage sale (in March) and an International Festival as our high school is considered "international". The misc activities include: grandparents day, teacher & parent appreciation days, Black History month celebration, teen workshops like:Teens and Safety, Teens & relationships, Teens & peer pressure, and a family picnic.
Hopefully, with this many activities and at varied times of the year, new parents will pop up and volunteer. I dont want to scare 'em off by always selling something that they'd have to pick up in boxes, lug the boxes around, keep track of the money (even though the student is supposed to), etc. etc.
16 years 2 days ago #143871 by HAIS
Replied by HAIS on topic RE: Small School Challenges
I am the PTO president of a small organization. While our student body is over 500 students in our Pre-K thru 5 school, our parent participation in the PTO is small due to the high rate of ecomonically disadvantaged students. This is a particular challenge for us, as some people tend to stay away specifically because they feel we will be soliciting money along the way. So, how do we overcome it? Well, we tend to have smaller fundraisers. For example, our best fundraiser is our weekly popcorn sales. Several parents volunteer to help make the popcorn and we sell it to students for $.25/bag. Our profits, after expenses are approximately $1500/year. I would also suggest that for PTO meeting, to increase participation, try to have a potluck dinner which is socially oriented and tends to draw small communities together, or be sure to have the kids art work on display or allow for different classes to provide entertainment for each meeting. Parents (and grandparents) always want to see their kids perform and you are guaranteed to draw a crowd. I have also found that during county budget times, parents are curious as to how their money is being spent, especially if the discussion turns to higher taxes. Invite the public officials to come and speak. We also try to bring vendors in to talk about their products for how we can spend the PTO money we have and again, these ideas help to get people at the meetings and interested in what is happening.

Hope these suggestions are helpful!
16 years 3 days ago #143848 by dlf
Replied by dlf on topic RE: Small School Challenges
What kind of challenges do you face that you consider unique. I of course understand that you have a smaller parent base to pull from but suspect too that many of your events are of smaller scope as well. There are some great posts here on the "2 hour power" concept that you might find useful. Most parents are interested in helping if you make very specific requests that they can manage within their own lives. Sometimes it is easy (real easy) to scare folks off if they sense you are grabbing at them to jump on.
One of our tools that has been incredibly useful has been establishing an email list where we are able to reach out an touch the parents with useful information about PTO happenings. Things like schedules, upcoming events, project statuses and yes even help requirements. We keep the email upbeat and original and make folks feel like they are a part of the team even if they've never assisted physcially. In that way we've been able to get help when we need it and keep things fun.
Kindergarten parents are the right venue (and 1st grade I think as well). By 5th the parents are a bit "done" and not really looking to be too involved.

Hope those ideas help.

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