The St. James Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is seeking new members for the board moving into the start of another school year. Since its inception, the same board members have served to get the program started and have reached the length of time stated in their bylaws to assist the school district. If the program is to continue, new board members are necessary.
“This is a pivotal year. Amber (Van Norman) and Kim (McMillen) have served one year more than our bylaws allow. This is my last year. Daryl Baumann’s term is expired and he said he would be stepping down. Sheila Shear is done. This is Connie Laney’s last year. At this point we need to get officers out of office,” PTO President Bob Diestelkamp said.
The PTO was started as a citizens committee in 2008 to assist the district with communication with families in the district during a bond issue. The organization was designed to be a communication advocate for the community and it quickly expanded to assist with the needs of school activities that had limited funding. Originally, it was planned to have 20 to 30 people in the organization, along with an executive board to oversee PTO activities.
“Our original vision was to have a group of people we could form committees for the things we wanted to do. Maybe we were too ambitious. It is truly a volunteer organization. It’s not like we don’t understand. People are busy. We’ve all had kids in school at the time we formed,” Diestelkamp said.
PTO activities have grown from simple meetings to address concerns and communication between the St. James Board of Education and the public at large to hosting activities such as Trunk or Treat. If new members do not relieve the efforts, programs and activities will have to be cut as members leave.
“It’s only two, maybe three hours a week and it’s not physically difficult. We have one meeting a month and try to keep it as short as possible. Sometimes, we don’t have enough board members to make a decision. That’s where we really need help. We need some general involvement. If we want to keep going, we need four or five people to step up and be officers,” Diestelkamp said. “Unless we can get some people to come in and take these offices, the first thing we’ll have to cut is Trunk or Treat. We will keep the craft fairs, but will probably have to cut our programs down.”
Since its inception, the PTO have added activities like Family Movie Night, the annual Craft Fair, Parent Portal Night to help parents in the district learn to navigate the online system to view student records, and assisted with events such as the Licking Shootout concessions during the summer camp. The same few members have grown this organization to give back to the district monetarily as well, helping school activities whenever needed. Members are currently looking to change their bylaws to better fit the organization now that members have seen how each year’s activities go.
“We function the same as the school board. Each board member gets a vote and the president votes in the case of a tie. We are all volunteers that have or at one time had a child in the district. Things have changed a bit and we will have less money next year (due to changes in fundraising rules by the state),” Diestelkamp said.
“Communication has really improved over the past few years. We think we’ve helped with that,” Van Norman said. “We would like to feel we had a part in that,” Deistelkamp added. “We’re putting out there where we stand. It’s been a good group and we feel we’ve done a lot for the schools.”
Information on the PTO can be found on Facebook on their St. James PTCO page. The non-profit organization would like to extend an invitation to all in the community to attend a monthly meeting or, for those seeking a larger role, join the board.