First of all, on behalf of the PTO board, I want to thank the 35 people who took the time to take our general PTO survey. The winner of our raffle was Tina Monaco. Congratulations! As with any organization, professional or volunteer, we are seeking feedback to improve. While those who responded were very frank and honest with their feedback, I’d like to take this opportunity to summarize the results, as well as share out some information in response to some of the comments. If your comment isn’t specifically mentioned, please know we read them all! I also acknowledge this is on the long side, but please take the time to read it in its entirety. It shouldn’t take more than 4 minutes of your time!
There is clearly a wide range of opinions about the PTO and its involvement with the school, ranging from, “I know all about it” to “I have no idea what the PTO does.” This means that for those of you who know all about us, you will be getting more information this year that you may not need, but for those of you who don’t know about us and what we do, hopefully we will do a better job communicating.
Biggest takeaways / comments:
1. Communications – There should be emails directly from the PTO or a website. Perhaps use text. Engage new parents better.
- We introduced a PTO website at the beginning of the school year last year, which was included in every weekly update from Dr. Lisi for the first half of the year. The website housed information about the board members, a calendar of all scheduled events, ways to support the school as well as posted meeting minutes and other blog posts with PTO news.
- This year, we will send monthly emails from the PTO directly. As a reference point, we had stopped doing this, because people complained about too much email from the school and instead had combined our news with Dr. Lisi’s update and directed people to the PTO website.
- We can talk to the school administration about texting (which we did use on very rare occasions), but this again goes back to how much people want to be communicated with and by what means. Everyone has different opinions.
- As for new parents, the board can do a better job at reaching out to them specifically, as well as partner with the partner ambassador program. We will work to be better this year.
2. Event scheduling – People would like to have things scheduled for the whole year ahead of time. Have a Back to School night table with events / volunteer opportunities listed.
- Unfortunately, we cannot promise a complete schedule by the start of school, as we have to wait for athletic event schedules for some of our events. As soon as we scheduled an event, it was promoted in Dr. Lisi’s update as well as added to the PTO website’s calendar. We will work to plan and communicate as early as possible.
- We did have a table at the Back to School night, as well as at other various times throughout the year, with most of our events listed. We will try to be more obvious this year.
3. Volunteering – Make volunteer hours mandatory for parents each year. Assign an event to a class. Tie events to community service. Personal calls to drive engagement.
- There were several suggestions along this vein. We will discuss with administration, because this needs to be formalized with the school if we wanted to do it. Assigning an event to one class may be difficult, especially with a small class, but we will look into it.
- Please look for us at Back to School night – we will have all events listed with as many dates secured as possible. Also, please email the PTO at any time to volunteer (email@example.com).
- We can look into opportunities to tie events to community service activities. Please keep in mind that our mission is to bring families together through fun events and do some fundraising for the school.
- Personal calls is a great suggestion, but we also need help to make that happen!
4. Fundraising – There needs to be better transparency about what the funds are for.
- We completely agree and pledge to do a better job at communicating what the funds are being used for. Last year, the PTO funds supported parking lot and security improvements, as well as bibles for the middle school. There are some larger items that we are currently investigating, such as A/C for the gym, keyless door locks and safety glass installations. There may also be a need to replace some of the computers used for classroom time.
5. Meetings – There wasn’t a lot of communication about meetings. I don’t have time for meetings.
- I will take full responsibility for this. In true transparency mode, we had two meetings in the fall, with the 1st being fairly well attended and the 2nd was tied to the State of the School. We had one meeting after the holiday break with 3 people in attendance. I understand that people are busy and have commitments, but it does not seem to be a worthwhile use of time to have a meeting that no one attends, so we instead had Dr. Lisi send out a link to our spring updates posted on the website. We are going to try some things differently this year, so please stay tuned.
- Some have suggested using the call-in number more. We did have the line open for all of the meetings. Knowing how hard it is to hear and contribute, I think we can continue to use it, but need to explore other options as well.
- Some suggested meetings after school, before school or on the weekends. We can certainly look at all of these options, but please understand that there is not one option that will work for everyone; it’s difficult enough to find times that work for all board members.
- I am committed to hour long meetings and staying to the agenda. Anything more than that starts to deteriorate.
6. Events – More child centric events. More social gatherings for parents.
- We would love to hear more feedback on this comment. We had many events throughout last year that were child focused – back to school ice cream social, Clark Farms day, Halloween trunk or treat, ice skating, URI basketball game and the parent / child events.
- We can certainly try to schedule more parent-type gatherings this year. The calendar fills up fast, so we are trying to work around a lot of commitments.
7. Feedback – Listen to feedback more.
- We sincerely apologize if you feel like your feedback was not heard. To be honest, we did not receive many suggestions this year, but if you have some, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the administration if you would like your feedback to be anonymous. They can pass it along for you.
I’d like to close by saying we’d love you all to consider being more involved this year to help make this the best year ever! Being on the PTO board is an extra commitment and we all have very busy lives, but if everyone could help out with an event or two, it would really distribute the work across the community. Also, we will be looking for new board members for the 20 – 21 school year, so if you are interested or have any nominations, please let us know!
Kate Smith, PTO President