Join a PTA

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, July 10, 2011

With the nation’s economy stuck in the doldrums, it’s a good bet that the 2012-2013 school budget deliberations will be much like they have been for the past couple of years: tense and disappointing.

Tax collections are up a bit in Suffolk, but many taxpayers are still unemployed, their homes are still underwater, financially speaking, and there’s no reason to expect they’ll be able to afford the kind of tax increases that would be necessary to support large increases in school funding. That likely means another year of trimming expenses in the schools, of asking teachers to bear heavier burdens, and, perhaps, cutting back on our non-academic expectations of schools.

Such decisions will clearly leave a void. And that’s where school Parent-Teacher Associations can make a difference. Every Suffolk public school has a PTA, but many of those organizations are only minimally active. But busy, creative PTAs can help schools cover some of the gaps left by incomplete school funding.

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Whether they’re raising funds through bake sales or organizing science fairs outside of the normal classroom-sponsored setting, PTAs can play a big role in helping students receive the best education possible.

In addition to fundraisers continued from the previous year, for example, the Creekside Elementary School PTA held several events for the first time last school year, including an after-school tae kwon do program, a holiday shopping experience and a Valentine’s Day dance. Those events help create well-rounded students at minimal cost to the school system.

“I’m here to serve the kids,” said Leila Baccouche-Nadeau, president of Creekside’s PTA. “(PTA is) vital to making the school safer and helping ensuring the students are successful in school.”

Baccouche-Nadeau and other PTA leaders have found it surprisingly hard to get people to join their organizations. They have distributed surveys and have worked tirelessly to drum up support for the groups.

But for parents who are engaged in their children’s education, PTA membership should be a no-brainer, especially in these uncertain economic times.