New Year’s is a time of fresh starts for a lot of people, but for PTAs, it’s the middle of the year. Your PTA doesn’t need a fresh start, but perhaps you could use a few minor “course corrections.” Here are three such changes your PTA should be considering now.
Your PTA got off to a good start with membership at the beginning of the year, but how are you fairing on meeting your Reach for the Stars goals? There are lots of ways to grow your PTA’s membership even in the middle of the year:
- Use Valentine’s Day as a reason to get spouses to join the PTA as well.
- Share what your PTA has done in the first half of the year and what you have coming up in the remainder, and ask those who didn’t join when school started to support your PTA’s continued success.
- Share what your PTA has done to support teachers and the school to encourage all teachers to join the PTA.
- Take advantage of National PTA’s membership resources to reach out to communities in your school that haven’t joined PTA.
And be sure to look for new resources later this spring from Illinois PTA on how to get this year’s members to join for next year before the end of school as well.
It’s never too late to get trained, so if you haven’t taken any of the Illinois PTA leadership training courses, contact your region director about setting up a training. You’ll likely discover some things you and your PTA can improve on (and maybe one or two that you should stop doing). Keep an eye on the Illinois PTA Event Calendar for other online training opportunities.
It’s also time to start thinking about next year’s leadership. Nominating committees should be elected or selected (check your PTA’s bylaws) around the start of the calendar year so they have time to find and recruit candidates for officer positions before elections at the end of the year.
Advocacy is not just contacting legislators. Local advocacy by PTAs can make a big difference as well. School board elections are coming up this spring, so your PTA or PTA Council might want to consider hosting a candidate forum. National PTA and Nonprofit VOTE have also created a helpful guide on how to host a candidate forum. You can also check out our list of questions from two years ago that you might want to use at a forum or in a candidate questionnaire.
There is still a need to contact legislators this spring, and Illinois PTA’s Voter Voice tool makes it easy for you to respond to an Illinois PTA Call to Action. When you get a call to action e-mail, simply click the link in the e-mail, type in your address (Voter Voice finds your legislators for you), and hit the send message button to send our pre-written letter. Here are some of the issues coming up this spring:
- School Funding: The General Assembly has been increasing school funding in the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) formula by $350 million per year since passage (with no increase in 2020 due to pandemic-related state revenue problems). However, the legislature’s own monitoring panel has noted that at that rate, all Illinois schools will not reach 90% of adequate funding until 2042 (note the graduating class of 2042 has not been born yet). Illinois PTA and other organizations will be asking the governor (in January) and the legislature (February-May) to increase the annual funding level to $550 million for the coming year to speed up that timeline.
- School Vouchers: When the EBF formula was passed, Governor Rauner vetoed the bill and required a $75 million tax rebate to be included in the eventual bill to fund a private school voucher program for five years. That program, known as Invest in Kids, was extended for an additional year during the pandemic, but should be ending this coming year. Illinois PTA is working with other organizations to ensure the voucher program is ended, freeing up an additional $75 million for EBF funding of public, not private, schools.
- Safe Gun Storage: Illinois PTA has been working on this issue for the past two years following passage of a resolution on the issue. Because of legislation supported by Illinois PTA, starting on January 1, 2023, the Illinois Department of Public Health is beginning a two-year public education campaign on safe gun storage and Illinois schools will need to include safe gun storage in their safety education programs beginning next school year. Illinois PTA will continue to advocate for requiring gun owners to safely store their firearms this spring.