Princeton’s parent teacher organization (PTO) continues to help fund some needs at Princeton Public Schools as the organization turns three years old.
But the PTO could use your help as they embark on their mission.
The PTO is actively seeking new members to help students and teachers with program support in the Princeton School District.
The organizing to start the PTO began in February 2009, but didn’t officially start until the fall of that year. Jessie Wright, one of the charter members, remains active in it as the president. Amy Miller is the treasurer and the positions of vice president and secretary remain open.
Wright and Miller talked last week about what the PTO has been doing in its three years and noted these accomplishments:
• Gave input for the design of the new playground that opened at North Elementary in time for the start of last school year, organized a volunteer group to assemble the new playground and donated $4,000 toward its cost.
• Purchased $797 worth of headphones for South Elementary. The headphones are needed for taking state tests and replaced headphones that were malfunctioning. “Thankfully, we had the funds to help out,” said Wright.
• Provided prizes for a mileage club to encourage walking during North Elementary recess, and bought items for the school’s North Star Cafe that is used at intervals as a reward.
• Bought testing awards for the middle school.
• Purchased a stool, lamp and specialty art table for North Elementary. The table is to do art on, so that an overhead camera can project the image of what is being done onto a screen.
• Paid for a learning station at South Elementary that included a CD player with six outputs and headphones.
• Helped send 60 special needs students to a Twins baseball game last year. North Elementary had gotten a grant from Target for the trip but fell $670 short in funding and that’s where PTO filled in.
• Filled a first grade teacher’s request to give money to purchase Scholastic News magazines as the school budget for that was depleted, according to Wright.
• Purchased printer toner for South Elementary last school year.
Wright credits Kandy Holman for organizing the PTO and said the inspiration came amid the news that the school board was going to make about $2 million in cuts. The PTO organizers thought that it was the time to help teachers and students with shortfalls that might come up as a result of the cuts, Wright said.
The mission of the PTO, said Miller, is “to fill the gap between the school budget and the needs for educating.”
Miller has six children, ranging in ages from four months to sixth grade, and Wright has two children, a preschooler and a fourth grader.
The PTO board meets the first Monday of each month this school year, with the exception of this month, when it will be on Sept. 17. The meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and go 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The meetings alternate between South Elementary (during the odd-numbered months) and North Elementary, and are always around a table in the media center. People can find the meeting dates on the school calendar.
The meetings are attended by the PTO board and the school principals, but any other interested people are welcome to attend and sit at the meeting table, Wright says.
One of the most noticeable fundraisers is the biannual move night, in which the movie is projected onto the wall of a school building. One movie is in the spring and the other in the fall. The last one was this past Friday evening, and was at North Elementary for the first time. The other movies have been at South Elementary and the movies were “Rio,” and “Alvin & the Chipmunks, Shipwrecked.” This last movie was Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who.”
Average attendance at these movies is 300, Wright notes. Besides the movie, PTO runs food/snack concessions.
North Elementary principal John Beach is the sound and projection operator for the movies, and South Elementary Principal Greg Finck is the grill cook. Those are the most active principals with PTO, Wright says.
Other fundraisers the PTO has been doing include selling “spirit wear” clothing including stocking caps and sweatshirts with a custom-design, Tigers-theme logo. The PTO also sells benchwarmers which are a foldable cushion seat with bottom and back, with a little mesh strip attached to hold a few items.
PTO also has a pizza night fundraiser once a month at each of the two elementary schools in which PTO gets $1 for each $5 in orders placed for pizzas at Pizza Hut.
The PTO has done magazine sales and also sold salt to melt ice on sidewalks. PTO also tried a walking marathon around a track one year. Even though $1,400 was raised, Wright said it didn’t turn out so well because the participation was not high.
“We have been concerned about the nutrition of lunches districtwide,” said Wright about the PTO board’s goals, noting that the board was part of a focus group last year to discuss that topic. Among the tasks, was to look at what other school districts have been doing to improve the nutrition of their schools, Wright said.
Another goal of PTO, Wright and Miller said, is to help make the district’s residents aware of the condition of South Elementary and its lack of space.
Wright didn’t say it when asked about goals, but she said early in the interview that she hopes more people can become aware of the Princeton PTO.
Wright and Miller said they find the PTO valuable in being able to be more involved in the education in the district and get a better idea of what is going on in the schools.
That might be an incentive for someone to become either the vice president or secretary on the PTO board, Wright said.
Anyone interested in joining the Princeton PTO, either as a board member or just as a meeting attendee, can contact Wright at 763-331-4887.