Lack of support has PTSA hanging by a thread

Zareya Flowers, Reporter

There were seven people at Cleveland’s first Booster Club meeting of the year. The group provides outside funding for sports and clubs. But at 6:30 p.m., when the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) meeting began, only two of those Booster Club participants stayed in their seats.

PTSA is struggling to get committed members on board. The group attracts mostly freshman parents or people who sign up but never attend the meetings. On average, less than 10 people attend the PTSA meetings, but there are some parents who contribute without attending the monthly meetings. Of those in attendance last year, four were Cleveland staff members. Most parents move on after their child graduates.

Last year, Sarah Doss, mother of CHS alum Devin Doss, was the only true board member, serving as the president and treasurer. Vanessa Isabell, mother of junior Myles Howard, was elected president last June on a ballot where most of the candidates were suggested names. Isabell’s face was the only new one at the PTSA’s first meeting of the year earlier this month.

“We need to get more parents involved. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to come to every meeting,” Isabell said.

PTSA was started as a way to bring parents and teachers together. Elementary and middle schools tend to have stronger participation than high schools, but across the district, participation in PTSA has dropped.

“I believe that it’s a parent’s job to partner with the school system, to make sure their child has success,” says Isabell.

Cleveland’s PTSA’s most profound contribution to the school is the annual Red and White Auction every April, which raises more than $50,000 each year. The event, which takes nearly six months to plan, was put together by 18 parents and teachers. Most schools need at least 50 volunteers to execute an event of that magnitude. Cleveland relies mostly on a handful of dedicated parents and student volunteers.

Money raised at the auction provides funding for Cleveland After School Help (CASH), the school’s tutoring program, as well as school events like the senior breakfast and awards ceremony and the sophomore class water project. Clubs like Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and Robotics receive thousands of dollars to cover travel costs and equipment. Cleveland Publications has received over $5,000 from PTSA over the past three years.

Without a PTSA, Cleveland runs the risk of losing funding for several programs. Taking the hardest blow would be CASH because a significant portion of the money raised goes to paying teachers who provide tutoring outside of their paid contract time.

Another program that would experience a downfall would be HOSA. Science teacher and club advisor Granville Storey knows the group would struggle without the help of PTSA, which helps pay for travel out of state to compete nationally.

“I think if we didn’t have a PTSA, HOSA will have a harder time finding funding for field trips and national competitions” Storey said.

Parents who want to get involved with the PTSA can email Isabell at [email protected]. The group meets on the first Tuesday of every month.

Reporter Gelzen Crisanto contributed to this report.