Parents concerned about a lack of communication from Mead High School have organized one of the first Parent Teacher Association groups in an Eastern Washington high school.
More than 100 parents have paid $6 dues to the group, which plans to keep its members informed through a monthly newsletter and to support school activities.
PTA President Linda Griego was not critical of school administration, but said parents want more information than they were getting. Few parents see the school student paper, she said.
“The school district does a good job of communicating what they want the parents to know, but there is a whole different set of info that the parents want to know,” Griego said.
Though supportive of the school, Griego made it clear the PTA is accountable only to its members, not to the school district.
“We don’t tell the school how to run their business, and the school doesn’t tell us how to spend money,” said Griego. “We are not directed by the district, we are a separate entity.”
Mead principal Steve Hogue welcomed the parents, whom he said will be an asset to the school. But, echoing the sentiments of many educators, Hogue said the group should not come in with an agenda of running the school.
“If people are so dissatisfied with the schools they think they have better answers, there is going to be a battleground,” said Hogue, who is retiring in June. “I don’t see that in Mead.”
There are no high school PTA groups in the Spokane area, according to PTA regional coordinator Cheryl Knighton. High school PTA groups are popular in Western Washington, Knighton said.
Mead and several Spokane Valley school districts have middle school PTAs.
Knighton said high school PTA groups are difficult to organize because many parents back away from the schools as their children mature and gain independence. Hogue said Mead administrators tried in the past to organize a high school PTA but found little interest.
But recent legislation requiring school districts to organize and empower parent groups are encouraging PTAs, Knighton said. Each District 81 school has a governing council that includes parents.
The key for successful PTAs, Knighton said, is giving parents a feeling that their involvement matters.
“They don’t want to be the gophers,” said Knighton. “That takes a lot of creative thinking on behalf of parent groups and the school as well. And it takes a lot of acceptance.”
Mead parent Christine Rogers was president of a thriving high school PTA in southern California.
“We want everyone to feel very comfortable in their role,” said Rogers. “It is not the PTA’s role to go in and step on any toes. We will wait for them to come to us.”
Griego hopes to have a newsletter published before the end of the school year. The group plans to spend $450 of its $1,030 on postage next year.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Parent meeting The Mead High School PTA meeting is May 14 at 7 p.m. in Mead High School. A video on site-based councils will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Call Linda Griego at 466-5285 for more information.