I recently attended a public hearing at Polson Middle School regarding Madison’s recommended town budget, which comes up for a vote this Tuesday, May 17th. At the end of a very informative presentation by the town’s Board of Finance, residents were given the opportunity to voice their support or opposition. I found all public comment, for and against the budget, to be thoughtful and impassioned, but there was one voice that seemed to dominate the evening; well, it was actually one group of voices, unified in support of the budget.
One by one, one after another, women who are volunteers with Madison’s various parent teacher organizations (PTOs) approached the microphone to express their support for the town budget which includes approximately $50.2 million in funding for the Madison Public Schools.
The public hearing was my first exposure to PTOs, and as a result, I became interested in learning more about them. I would like to say a special thanks to Susan Riordan, Co-President of the Jeffrey PTO, who was gracious enough to share her insight with me and answer my questions regarding the PTO system. As I learned, PTOs provide a tremendous service to this town and, more specifically, to our schools.
Each of Madison’s public schools has its own PTO consisting of both faculty and parents (or guardians). The PTOs help create a closer relationship between families and the schools by facilitating open communication between parents, faculty and administration. There also exists a Parents’ Representative Council (PRC) that links the various PTOs and advises our schools’ Superintendent on issues of concern to parents.
Most significantly, however, PTOs also make substantial financial contributions to the schools through a multitude of fundraising activities. PTOs take it upon themselves to raise funds to provide supplemental educational resources and experiences to their schools. Fundraising efforts range from book fairs and gift wrapping sales to magic shows. This past weekend, for instance, included a Fun Fair at Ryerson. The fruits of these wonderful efforts can include field trips and learning tools for the classroom. For example, the Jeffrey PTO recently contributed to the purchase of a Smart Board (an interactive whiteboard).
The PTOs are always looking for volunteers. Parents can help out in a variety of ways depending on their availability, such as helping out on fundraising events, working inside the classroom or attending field trips. As a father of a child who will be entering the Madison Public Schools next year, I am elated to see such a high level of involvement by parents, and I plan to get involved however I can. I encourage other parents to do the same.
More information regarding Madison’s PTOs and PRC can be found on the Madison Public Schools’ website at http://www.madison.k12.ct.us/page.cfm?p=5125.