What’s happening to the ETHS PTSA?
After several years of declining program participation and unanswered calls for volunteers, the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) board in February 2013 communicated a plan to transition many of its programs to stewardship of the ETHS administration. There followed some discussion of alternatives, both on the PTSA’s Yahoo! group and in a series of public meetings in the spring and summer of 2013.
In June 2013, a new “caretaker” board was elected to guide the PTSA through a transparent and legal handoff of programs to the administration, to transfer PTSA assets to designated student activity accounts consistent with the intent of those funds’ donors, and to pursue a legal dissolution that follows the organization’s bylaws and requirements of the Illinois PTA of which it is a member unit. The Evanston/Skokie PTA Council and the Illinois PTA are being kept apprised of these plans.
What’s happening to programs the PTSA has historically run?
The PTSA Yahoo! Group will continue as forum for ETHS parents to share information, questions, and answers, just under a new name that no longer implies a PTA affiliation. This route was chosen rather than creating a new listserv in order to keep the archive of messages since 2007 available to current subscribers. Wildkit Grants to teachers, volunteers for dances, After Midnight post-prom activity, and many parent programs will be managed by the school administration. Speakers of interest, parent-to-parent programs, and more will be offered by a new, more informal parent initiative, ETHS Parents Engaged.
How can ETHS parents engage with the school and with one another?
One reason for declining PTSA participation is the variety of opportunities ETHS parents have to be involved around school. Parents run the ETHS Boosters Club, which raises funds for music, fine arts, and student clubs, as well as sports. The school facilitates Parent Ambassadors, the Latino Advisory Committee, the ETHS Black Advocacy Network, the School Improvement Team, and new in 2013-14, the School Dance Volunteer Committee. There are a variety of opportunities for parents to volunteer around sports teams, fine arts programs, and field trips. Parents are encouraged to join the ETHS parent Yahoo and Facebook groups. The new initiative, ETHS Parents Engaged, is inspired in part by a successful similar Parent Advisory Council at Niles North High School.
Who is working on all of this?
The leadership of ETHS Parents Engaged includes Becky Zwolinski, Mindy Wallis, and Archana and Jim Lal-Tabak. Additional parent involvement is welcome. Let one of us know if you are interested. The PTSA caretaker board consists of Jane McCarthy, Deborah Graham, Arlene Sagan, and Elliot Frolichstein-Appel. The Yahoo group administrators are Jane McCarthy, Mindy Wallis, and Elliot Frolichstein-Appel. The Facebook group is managed by Mindy Wallis. ETHS Principal Marcus Campbell is the administration’s primary contact point for all of these parent-led efforts. Please let any of us know of questions or concerns you may have. Use the contact form on our Get Connected page.
What is the time frame for all this change?
ETHS Parents Engaged is beginning programming in the 2013-2014 school year. Its first program is scheduled for September 19, 2013, and additional programs are in the works.
The PTSA has a fiscal year starting July 1, 2013 and a membership year starting October 1, 2013. Its bylaws and the requirements of Illinois and National PTA lay out certain required timelines. The caretaker board was elected June 19, 2013. The plan is to publicize and adopt a budget in the fall of 2013 that spells out which assets of the PTSA will be transferred to which program accounts managed by the ETHS business office, then after the start of the new membership year, to undertake a formal dissolution process that follows all legal requirements. This time frame will let us communicate what is happening to the ETHS parent community and will allow ample opportunity in case any new ETHS parents feel compelled to assume leadership of a traditional PTSA organization.
What about financial support?
The intent of donors of funds held by the PTSA will be followed in the allocation of assets to the several student activity accounts managed by the ETHS administration. PTSA will not broadly solicit membership dues in 2013-14, but it will collect a minimal number of memberships to satisfy the requirements of the Illinois PTA. PTSA membership has been removed from the ETHS web store, but the ability to make directed donations for Wildkit Grants to teachers and the After Midnight post-prom activity remains available, and we encourage parents to support these two popular initiatives.
The new ETHS Parents Engaged initiative will not charge for membership, but it welcomes donations in support of its programs. Donations and bills will be managed by the administration much like a student club to eliminate the need for a formal legal entity.
ETHS Boosters continues its work raising funds to support a wide array of student activities, and we encourage parents to support the Boosters.
How can I get additional information?
The PTSA Yahoo group is being renamed the week of August 18, 2013 and can be found at ETHSParentsEngaged@yahoogroups.com or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ETHSParentsEngaged. Group moderators can be contacted at ETHSPTSAfirstname.lastname@example.org prior to the name change or at ETHSParentsEngagedemail@example.com after the change.