How Philly PTAs Are Coping
With the Philadelphia School District operating under a $300 million-plus deficit, PTAs are turning to their neighborhoods for help. Here's the approach from one local school.
The Philadelphia school district opened for business yesterday under desperate circumstances. The $300 million-plus operating deficit has decimated arts programs and forced the layoffs of 4,000 teachers, administrators, guidance counselors and support staff. As kids returned to schools Monday morning, 200 protestors held a mock funeral for the school district outside of Governor Corbett's office. Teachers are crowd-sourcing for supplies. And PTAs, perennially scrambling for resources, are trying to figure out how to pick up the slack while funding talks continue.
In the wake of my previous post about the reasons why I'm a staunch PTA parent, a representative of the Charles W. Henry Elementary School PTA in West Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, sent me the group's back-to-school appeal letter. I share it with you now as an example of how parent groups are looking to make the best of educating their children in such a tenuous budgetary situation. The sentence that particularly states the straits? "A school without a counselor is hindered in its ability to handle conflict resolution, emotional support and more. A school without money for supplies is hindered in its ability to offer each child the chance to further their knowledge with workbooks and instructional materials."
Learn about us! We are Charles W. Henry, an elementary school providing high-quality education for grades K-8. Located in the heart of West Mt. Airy, we service a diverse student body of approximately 448 children. We are driven by a committed community of parents, students, teachers and volunteers, and led by a dedicated and energetic principal in Mrs. Fatima Rogers. Our students continue their successful learning careers at schools including Central, Masterman and Saul.
Our teachers work collaboratively to develop a well-rounded curriculum that enriches and challenges our students, helping them reach their full potential.
Learn with us! Incorporating the arts and sciences promotes critical thinking, personal expression, and self-confidence. In addition to instrumental music lessons, writers’ workshops, winter and spring concerts, and Science Fun Day, we encourage our children’s participation in programming that includes musicals (don’t miss this year’s Into the Woods) and collaborations with arts organizations (including The Pennsylvania Ballet and The Philadelphia Museum of Art).
Our athletic programming promotes cognitive, social and emotional development through activities including Playworks, soccer, basketball and dragon boat racing. Each year, our track team has the opportunity to attend the Penn Relays.
Our vegetable garden and new outdoor classroom connect students with nature, with others and with themselves. Growing organic, delicious vegetables, tending to bird feeders and managing rain barrels help promote patience, teamwork, and literacy and numeracy skills.
C. W. Henry recently welcomed two Autistic Support classrooms for students K-2. This year we will add “Include Me from the Start,” which uses on-site consultants to help teachers include children with severe learning disabilities into the general classroom using inclusive and meaningful methods.
Learn our obstacles! The Philadelphia School District’s financial difficulties are creating significant challenges for all public schools. The state of the 2013-2014 budgets is unstable, making it difficult for principals, teachers, staff and families to plan for the new year.
A school without a counselor is hindered in its ability to handle conflict resolution, emotional support and more. A school without money for supplies is hindered in its ability to offer each child the chance to further their knowledge with workbooks and instructional materials.
These are just a few of the many areas that schools today need your help.
Learn how to help us! Your impact is easily felt, if you choose to proffer it. Here are some ways your help is welcome:
1) Join Us – To join the PTA, you don’t have to be a parent, a teacher or even an adult (yes, students can help themselves!).
2) Help Us – Volunteer to share your time and talents.
3) Hear Us – Stay informed through email, follow us on Twitter, “Like” us on Facebook, visit our website.
4) Stand Up for Us – Advocate for financial stability in our schools.
5) Support Us – Donate funds or supplies to the school or to the PTA. Information about these needs can be found on our website.
We consider it a great privilege and responsibility to nurture our children. We know you feel the same.
Thanks to the Charles W. Henry PTA for sharing its approach with us. If your child attends a Philadelphia school, let us know how your PTA is handling the financial situation in the comments below.