CHS PTA president Mauri Bleazard said that since she took over as acting president in July she has been painfully aware of the inefficiency of the current PTA program in accordance to the actual needs of the students at Cedar High.
She said that although there is a tremendous amount of volunteering and parent support at the school when it comes to activities and functions, the PTA s seen very little enrollment and even less active support. Of the over 1000 students at the school, there are only 43 parents have signed up and paid dues to participate as a member of the PTA.
She said they hope that a new name, and a new program, would give the parents and teachers the incentive needed to get more actively involved participants in their corner.
“We have great parents and they all do a ton to help their students and teachers,” Bleazard said. “But it just seems like we can’t all rally together, we can all work in these different locations and branches – some helping here, some helping there – but it’s never under the umbrella of PTA.”
Cedar High School principle John Dodds said that the lack of PTA involvement is a poor reflection of the actual parent involvement that takes place at the school year-round, and by changing formats it would all the school to find a way to merge existing programs under one umbrella and streamline things to make them more efficient overall.
He said there were some challenges ahead, for instance the new organization will have to establish themselves as a legal nonprofit association, and write bylaws under which to operate. They will also have to decide how to organize the various components of the new PTSO.
Bleazard said that there is not a name or title picked out for the new program yet, but the idea of a PTSO is to have parents, teachers and students involved in making decisions together. She said it was important to involve the students, because the decisions made will impact them directly.
Bleazard said that she was surprised by the impressive questions that students were asking about the PTA and what benefits the students receive through the program. She said they asked questions about what programs are provided through the association and how much money stayed with the school as opposed to being sent away to the program’s Utah headquarters in Salt Lake City.
“They were really thorough and wanted to break the whole thing down as much as any adult would,” she said. “I was very impressed with them.”
One key point that was made by both CHS principle and the PTA president was that it was blatantly obvious that, despite the success PTA has had at other schools in the district, the system was not working for CHS faculty, parents or students.
“We don’t utilize most of the programs,” Bleazard said. “And we want every single person to feel like they are a member of our PTSO whether they pay a six dollar fee or not.”
While the particulars of the new organization still need to be ironed out, and the new fee schedule has not yet been decided on, Bleazard said there has been some discussion amongst the board about offering a sliding scale membership to parents in order to accommodate parents facing financial hardships.
Dodds said that one feature of changing the format was that membership dues would stay closer to home. He said that with the PTA four of the six dollars in membership dues paid into the program were sent up north, but now, every penny paid in will stay with CHS opening up more opportunities for programs and activities that will support the students.
“There is still a lot left to do and sometimes I wonder what I have gotten myself into,” Bleazard said. “I know however, that what we were doing wasn’t working, and I certainly hope that more parents notice that we are listening to their needs and want to get involved.”