PTAs decline statewide but remain strong locally - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

PTAs decline statewide but remain strong locally

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by Danielle Wagner

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) The Iowa Parent-Teacher Asssociation has existed for more than 100 years. Back in the 90s, Iowa's PTA had more than 23,000 members. But last school year that number dropped to just more than 13,000.

While memberships have been on the decline for several years, the Iowa PTA President Claire Leonard said membership is already up this year, at around 13,400 so far.

In Cedar Falls, each school has it's own version of a Parent-Teacher Assocation. During registration at Hansen Elementary School the PTA was also there signing up parents.

So far, more than 100 parents have already signed up for the Hansen Elementary PTA for the 2009-2010 school year.

Dues are five dollars for the entire year. The group meets once a month, but president Amie Struthers said there's no pressure when it comes to involvement.

"You can join on all different levels of involvement. You can run a committee, you can volunteer at the school, you can pay your dues and not have any other invovlement. I think people are intimidated by the time commitment but everyone has a place in the PTA," said Struthers.

The association raises money to help fill in financial gaps.

"The classrooms can request money for special projects. One of the exciting things the second grade classroom teachers did, they requested butterfly larvae for each child. So not only did we get one for the classroom, we got one for each of the children. We also help to sponsor field trips. The third grade goes on a field trip to a farm and they each come home with a pumpkin," said Struthers.

After five years of fundraising, the PTA is replacing this playground soon.

"I've been a principal at three different schools. This is the best I've ever worked at and one of the reasons is the parent support. PTA is very active, do all sorts of neat things for the kids. It provides extra money that helps things get done," said principal Dr. Tony Reid.

Dr. Reid isn't surprised by the level of parent involvement at Hansen. He said more engaged parents make for more engaged students.

"People in this area are just very committed to education for their kids they want the best for their kids," he said.

"I think parents and the community need to have a vested interest in students because that is our future," said Amie Struthers.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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