Look out, Maple School’s PTO is on a roll

The networking of shared information technology has become efficient and user-friendly at the Parent Teacher Organization of Maple School in Northbrook, said parent members.

So much so the system has been adopted by the two other school PTOs in District 30 — Willowbrook in Glenview and Northbrook’s Wescott.

Parent Michelin Sloneker created the online steps for parents to register for membership, share committee reports, check on raised funds, pull reports on who bought tickets for PTO volunteer events, among other online services — all in real time.

“We’ve tried to change parents from simply pushing around tickets and paper for fundraisers. They instead want to be hands-on and involved in events,” said Sloneker, the district’s IT liaison.

“Their contributions are so powerful.”

On Wednesday, Maple School Administrators hosted a meet and greet for the Maple PTO to begin the new 2014-15 school year.

The PTO has 300 members and more than 30 attended the greet.

Years ago, PTOs in general were minor fundraising functions of school districts, but with costs for education on the rise, parent volunteers now undertake projects throughout school years.

For instance, every third Wednesday the PTOs serve lunch as a fundraiser, and local restaurants such as Dear Frank and Viccino’s and Dear Franks supply hot food.

In 2013, Maple PTO brought in $12,000 to purchase an electronic soundboard and screen for the west gymnasium to help physical education teachers instruct a large class, typically up to 50 students.

The sound and screen also are used for school ceremonies, awards, view team student sports and warming up students with exercises before gym classes.

In addition to fundraising, Maple PTO Nathan Carter said District 30 PTOs were more interested in how schools educated children then previously.

For instance, prompted by parents Wednesday’s meeting side-barred into a 10-minute discussion on why Maple educators decided this year to count only 5 percent of a student’s grade on homework.

Carter and principals dutifully spent time explaining why.

Another dialogue questioned the safety of a student cross walk at a busy Pfingsten Road intersection near Willowbrook School

“The PTOs play a big role in assisting our community keep up in a learning culture and climate and school spirit,” Carter said.

“With this IT system, it’s hard for parents not to get involved. Participation is at a crescendo now.”

Julie St. John said more parents have participated in PTOs over the years.

“They’re just more invested in their kids’ educations. The PTO here help meld parents and teachers,” said St. John, a Maple PTO co-president, along with Barbara Gonzalez.

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