PTSA Council sets focus on middle school

October 1, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

The Issaquah PTSA Council will continue working with school district officials to evaluate middle school students’ experiences this year. 

It is one of many goals outlined by the council’s members, who ratified their new mission and goals for the 2008-09 school year Sept. 11. The goals may be large, but they are certainly attainable, said Nancy Campi and Alison Meryweather, co-council presidents of the districtwide PTSA. 

Council members adopt a mission statement and goals each school year. 

This year’s mission statement centers on communication and collaboration with educational partners, like district officials, parents and members of the Issaquah Schools Foundation, to provide the best educational product to students.

Over time, the mission statement has stayed roughly the same, but the goals have become increasingly important each year, Campi said. 

Ensuring there is a vision, and guiding local school PTSAs to work with their principals to identify where that money can be used best, is one reason the goals are important, Meryweather said.

“They realize that they need to focus on goals and objectives that meet their school’s needs,” she said. 

Goals used to center on facilitating better communication between the district, its schools, its students and parents or reaching 100 percent membership among parents. 

Today, both of those goals remain, but new goals put direct focus on partnering with district officials to help meet educational goals in the face of a tight financial climate. 

During the 2007-08 school year, school PTSAs were responsible for fundraising and giving more than $1.6 million dollars in charitable gifts to Issaquah schools, according to district officials.

That money goes directly toward purchasing new educational supplies for the classroom and providing schools with additional money to support programs, field trips or bringing guest speakers in to expand on school curriculum goals. 

“PTA is such a good revenue source,” Campi said. “We want to be sure that our schools partner with their principals to do the most good for all students and not just buy extra stuff.”

Meryweather and Campi said they are excited about continuing their work on the Middle School Experience Project.

The Middle School Experience Project evaluates the quality of students’ experiences in middle school by identifying their physical and emotional needs, their development and their peer culture. 

“Historically, middle school is a place where kids fall through the cracks,” Campi said. “We want to focus on the basic core of what makes a middle school student and how we can help make that experience positive.”

Campi and Meryweather said that the goal of the project is not to place blame on schools but to better educate parents, teachers and students alike, about those middle school years and how best to help students develop in and out of the classroom.

“I embrace the goal and think it is a good goal that provides us the opportunity to look at the middle schools,” Ron Thiele, associate school superintendent, said, adding that it is a continuation from last year. “We want to talk about the issues and the experience that middle school kids have — everything from academic experiences, to extracurricular experiences, culture in schools, expectations for schools and students, and building independence in kids.

“It has been about 20 years since we’ve taken a good look at what we do and why we do it,” he added. “This will give us a chance to focus in on some group discussions with parents, teachers and students.”

Online fundraising and registrations are also a big focus this year, Meryweather said.

“You can’t operate without a Web site today,” she added. 

This goal will bring the PTSA Council and school PTSAs into current technology standards by streamlining their Web site content and helping parents understand new district e-communications.

It will also allow PTSAs to take fundraising money from credit cards through a secure online system.

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or 

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