The Reporter: Low PTO participation may limit student and staff perks

The following story was written by students on the staff of The Reporter as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.

by Emily Berry, Staff Writer

Stop what you’re doing and imagine Bradley without free cookie day.

This scenario could be the future if PTO (which stands for Parent Teacher Organization) officially ends. A lack of involvement from parents and teachers combined with reduced funds coming from donors has some PTO members wondering if our PTO can continue to function, according to Ann Berry, PTO’s treasurer.  In past years parents were quick to help supply the PTO with various types of donations for the different things the PTO does. 

The PTO website the PTO is mainly run by four parents: Christine Gazda is the president, Crystal Billman is the vice president, Ann Berry is the treasurer, Angie Copeland is the Secretary, along with three others that are not officers.  

The PTO’s most recognized benefit for students is free cookie day during lunch for students. Parents can donate cookies to this, but since there are few parent members of PTO this year, the few remaining members, including Crystal Billmano, are each having to make double or triple the amount they usually made in order to have enough.

Also, PTO has historically had a benevolent fund for students who can’t pay school funds or for online classes. Berry explained: “The PTO has a benevolent fund that supports Bradley students in need. Recently we have paid for correspondence courses that students need to graduate and their families are unable to pay for. If the PTO is dissolved, the fund will be donated to charity and the support will no longer be available [to students and parents].”

Last year, PTO established a scholarship for graduating seniors, which – you guessed it – will end if the PTO ends.

Berry added that there are benefits to teachers that will also end in such a scenario, including dinner for teachers during parent teacher conferences. The donations from parents for this is already lacking, but without them the teachers will not be supplied a dinner for coming in during the evening to meet with parents. Similarly, PTO provides a convocation lunch for teachers on the day before school starts each year and a coffee cart for teachers a few times per year.

The PTO has fundraisers that earn them money to be able to run these various things along for students and teachers. This includes the homecoming consignment sale, which earned very little money this year due to low attendance.  Another fundraiser they do for disadvantaged families at Bradley is the Bradley Cares and Shares walk, which was cancelled because not enough people signed up to participate. 

The main purpose of the PTO is for parents to be involved in their child’s school and help improve its environment. Kevin Moody, a math teacher, explained that there is value in a strong PTO. Moody said, “I do believe it is worth the effort and I believe that teachers should help save it.  It is a great source of communication with our parent community.”

There are some reasons why this is happening. Involvement in PTO at middle schools and elementary schools are much more than high schools.  Berry addressed this: “There are so many other commitments for parents with high schoolers, such as music boosters and athletics and sports. And parents aren’t aware of what PTO does for students and teachers in high school, so there is a lack of knowledge.”

PTO president Christine Gazda added, “at the high school level, parents aren’t as visible at events like open house, conference nights and Jag days like they are at the lower grade levels.  Students drive themselves to Jag days or go with friends. It’s hard to reach parents to let them know that we still exist at the high school level and how we support the students, staff and community. In general, we need to communicate better as a school about all events and organizations.”

The PTO has booths at 9th grade orientation, Jag days, and at Open House. Parents receive an email each week about school news that includes PTO news and how parents can help.

Parents interested in helping can donate to the PTO anytime, as they are in need of parents and teachers to donate money, bake for cookie day, attend meetings, donate food for teacher meals and coffee cart, and participate in fundraising such as the consignment sale which will return for prom in the spring.

For more information,  go to the PTO’s website or email BradleyPTO@aol.com.