Meeker Elementary PTO aims to support teachers

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MEEKER — Funding for schools is notoriously tight, and teachers often pay for extra supplies out of their own pockets.
That’s where the Meeker Elementary School PTO comes in.
“They have a budget for consumables, which are paper, pencils, materials like that. But, normally, teachers end up contributing more than the $200 a year you can deduct for taxes,” said Alicia Watt, PTO president. “Teachers are spending out of their own pocket for class projects, in excess of what you can deduct on taxes.”
PTO helps teachers out with those extra expenses.
“What we do is fundraising for the elementary school,” Watt said. “It helps them out. Our goal is to pick up the slack. A lot of these teachers are paying for this stuff out of their own pocket.”
PTO stands for Parent Teacher Organization. Its mission is self-explanatory: parents supporting and helping teachers.
Watt said “it’s been quite awhile” since the elementary school had an active PTO.
“There used to be a PTO, or some sort of parent-teacher group,” she said. “They haven’t had one … I don’t know how many years it’s been. My oldest is in sixth grade, and there wasn’t one when he started school. So, it’s been quite awhile.”
As a new organization, Watt is trying to spread the word about PTO.
“We’re just starting out,” she said. “It’s open to parents of elementary-age kids. We’re just looking for parents to volunteer for activities, for input, for volunteering in the classroom, anything they would like to do, even if they just want to donate (money).”
PTO meets the second Monday of the month during the school year. Meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. and are held in the community room at Mountain Valley Bank.
“We have elected officers, and the rest of our help comes from parent volunteers,” Watt said.
Jennifer Steinacher is the group’s vice president; Nikki Foreback, a third-grade teacher, is the secretary; and Shelly Rogers is treasurer. Watt said it is helpful to have a teacher involved.
“(Foreback) serves as a liaison between the teachers and our group,” Watt said. “We have a hard time getting teachers (at the meetings), because they have so many commitments.”
Principal Jason Hightower said the group played an important role.
“The PTO is in its infancy stages, but it’s becoming a very important piece in supporting the teacher as far as classroom needs, as well as supporting the school more generally as a whole,” Hightower said. “They organized the zoo assembly we had last year, and they helped out with staffing the book fair. They’re doing things on a building level as well as a classroom-by-classroom level. It’s another great opportunity for parents and teachers to interact.”
For information about PTO, contact Watt at jca3@hotmail
.com or Hightower, principal at the elementary school, 878-9050, Ext. 102.