Clark Elementary School PTO members sold cookie dough and tickets to the Pacers games to raise money for a new playground.
Sales at a Scholastic Book Fair ran by Pleasant Grove Elementary School PTO will help stock the school’s library. Carnivals sponsored by Isom Elementary School’s PTO will pay the driver and fuel for buses for field trips.
Elementary school parent-teacher organizations sell cookie dough, organize carnivals and walk-a-thons and plan other fundraisers throughout the year.
Elementary school PTOs aren’t just about organizing ice cream socials and carnivals. Money they raise makes a difference at the schools, PTO members said.
Parent volunteers want to make sure their student’s school has the best. They pour hundreds of hours into volunteering so that their kids can take a field trip or have new library books that the school might not have been able to afford otherwise.
Some PTO members do tasks for teachers, such as make copies and prepare crafts for projects so teachers can spend more time with students.
Money they raise gives kids the extras in school that school districts can’t afford, PTO members said.
“School funding has just gotten tighter and tighter,” said Kristi Judson, Northwood Elementary School PTO president. “The financial piece is important; schools are asked to do more with less money.”
Most raise the funds to pay for a bus that allows students to go on fields trips. They pay for treats for teachers and books to stock the library. They collect Box Tops for Education labels from food that families buy at the grocery store.
“That is one of the biggest things that we do,” said Mike Metzger, Isom Elementary School PTO president.
That work takes hundreds of hours a year for a PTO president. They handle budgets that allocate thousands of dollars to school activities. Isom’s budget is around $8,000. Teachers can put in a request for a certain item they need for their classroom. They completely fund one field trip for each grade in the school every year and bought new sound equipment for the school’s stage.
Metzger could easily spend at least 10 hours a week working as a volunteer at his school.
A fundraiser may only bring in a few hundred dollars in profits, meaning groups must stay busy to raise the thousands of dollars that are needed.
He organizes fundraising carnivals and an All Pro Dads chapter that allows children to have monthly breakfasts with their dads at the school and finds sponsors for their carnivals.
“It varies, obviously, but, I could easily (work) every evening,” he said.
One reason parents get involved in PTO is a chance to be a part of their child’s education, Metzger said.
He wanted to be involved in the events in his children’s school.
Heading up the PTO seemed like the best way to do that, he said.
“I wanted to be that parent that played an active role in their child’s education,” he said. “There is nothing bad that can happen (if you get involved).”
While raising funds for school extras is one of the PTO’s biggest jobs, supporting teachers and administrators is huge, too, said Dana Alexander, a PTO member at Pleasant Grove Elementary School.
Teachers spend seven hours a day with students, leaving little extra time to prepare materials for projects, Alexander said.
PTO members volunteer in classrooms to do the work that eases a teacher’s day, Alexander said.
Without PTO, students would lose out on some of the extras they look forward to at school, Judson said.
Northwood PTO has worked to buy a rock climbing wall for gym class, drums for students to use in music class and to replace outdated and worn office equipment.
“If PTO were gone, I don’t know that another person or group would come in and fund those things,” she said. “At Northwood, we believe it is a collaborative effort.”