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PTAs a support system for schools

May 13, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

If local, state and national parent-teacher associations disappeared, Tri-State area PTA members and educators say the quality of public school education would diminish.

"You would probably lose the number one support system for the school and the student," said James R. Taylor, assistant superintendent of elementary services for the Chambersburg Area School District. "They do a tremendous amount of work."

Parents who belong to the group, which has 6.5 million members across the nation, say the volunteer organization plays various important roles in the education of young people.

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The PTA has five purposes, according to the national organization's Web site. They include:

- Promoting the welfare of children in the home, school and place of worship.

- Raising the standards of home life.

- Improving the relationship between the home and the school.

- Lobbying legislators for laws that protect children.

- Fostering cooperation between educators and the public for the general welfare of children.

Jenny Belliotti, president of the Washington County Council of PTAs, said the group's activities include bringing to schools educational programs such as visits from the police to talk about drug-sniffing dogs and bicycle safety; raising money; offering parenting programs; and pushing for increases in state and federal public school funding.

"We're part of the voice that makes for positive change," Belliotti said. "We're more than just fund-raising."

The Washington County PTA has about 5,000 members and was started in 1935.

"What the PTA does is go above and beyond," said Sherry Smith, who has been involved with the Berkeley County PTA for 30 years. "If the PTA went away, we would have a lot less parental involvement in the schools."

The Berkeley County Council of PTAs has been in existence since 1938 and has groups in 16 schools.

Smith said the hours that PTA members volunteer and their fund-raising pay off in the classroom.

She said much of the money raised by the PTA has gone to teachers to buy classroom equipment or supplies. Without it, Smith said, teachers would have to use their own money to purchase classroom necessities.

Taylor said many of the Chambersburg Area School District's 18 elementary schools have PTAs. The activities and services the groups provide include paying for school assemblies, giving money to teachers for supplies, tutoring students and sponsoring field trips and field days, Taylor said.

The field days are daylong activities based on various educational topics. Parents also volunteer to be room mothers, who assist teachers with planning events.

"They really support the schools in many, many different ways," Taylor said. "They provide a tremendous support for us."

More information on the PTA can be found at www.pta.org.

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