2017-18 Survey Results

2017-18 Survey Results

As the 2017-18 school year and my time as PTA President nears an end, I want to thank all of the parents who have served with me on the Executive Committee, Walkathon committee, and Spiritwear committee as mentors, partners, and successors. Transitioning from a full-time to a part-time working mom, I felt embraced and welcomed into a PTA committee as soon as I communicated that I would be available to do more in the Fall of 2013. Beginning as a Walkathon Co-chair, then segueing into Secretary, I quickly learned the ins and outs of what PTA was doing, and those serving with me were endlessly patient bringing me up to speed so that my meeting minutes were accurate and informative. I can only hope that I have been equally as patient and helpful to those volunteering after me.

I also want to thank ALL of our Belinder families, teachers, and staff for all they do for our amazing Belinder students. When you support PTA through volunteering or donations, you are making your child’s classroom, and the entire school, stronger. With teacher and parent input and guidance, your Belinder PTA is able to provide support, in both time and money, directly to teachers and students that is not provided in any other way within the school budget or other resources available to them.

We are truly lucky to have teachers and staff at Belinder so dedicated to educating and to finding new innovations to engage our students.  Our hope is that every dollar raised by parents, teachers, and students, and spent on classrooms, equipment, curricula, and more is of great and continuing value to the teachers and staff of Belinder in giving our students the best education imaginable.

I’d like to remind us of what the PTA’s role is and how we have responded to parent and teacher feedback from the 2017-18 school year survey responses.

The primary mission of the PTA is to advocate for our students, and we are able to do this in a variety of ways at Belinder; ways such as legislative awareness, enrichment opportunities, community building, and, of course, through fundraising. You can learn more about each of these areas, including Race for Excellence, Belinder PTA’s tax-deductible 501(c)(3) initiative to provide supplemental Math and Reading Aides and a part-time Counselor each school year, on our website at www.belinderpta.org.

None of this advocacy could be accomplished without our many, amazing parent and teacher volunteers! Whether you are able to contribute a lot of time, or a little, to the work of our PTA, we welcome your participation. All contributions make an impact, and volunteering is a great way to connect with your school community. When you join PTA, you have many opportunities to share your time and unique talents.

Our volunteers are also our best source of constructive criticism to improve PTA programs, fundraisers, and processes to better advocate for Belinder students. To that end, we encourage all families to respond to our Annual PTA Survey each Spring. Each Executive Board member and Committee Chairperson takes every answer and comment into consideration when evaluating changes moving forward.

So, without further ado, here are the results from the 2017-18 survey:

  • Top 2 Reasons Parents join PTA:
    • To Build New or Improve Existing Student Programs
    • To Connect with Other Parents
    • Respondent Comment: “I join to support our PTA and to let our active parents know that I want to contribute in any way I can. Although work crowds out so many possibilities of supporting our school, I am happy there are so many opportunities to donate food or volunteer to staff after-school activities.”
  • ~90% of responding Belinder Parents agree that the additional Math Aides, Reading Aide, and Counselor are a valuable asset.
    • Respondent Comment: “Even though my children don’t work directly with the reading/math aides, I believe they benefit b/c their teachers are able to focus more on teaching the entire class when provided with the help of aides, and also the counselor. I think there is a need for a counselor and it seems like this position has been very beneficial during the past year. I wish the SMSD would figure out a way to fund this position for all schools.”
    • Respondent Comment: “While we have utilized a reading specialist in the past, at my children’s ages the counselor is most important. (Also especially in light of what’s going on around the country) I do feel  strongly that a reading aide is needed as a close second.”
    • Respondent Comment: “A full-time Counselor and/or Social Worker. In today’s climate, we see time and time again the need to educate the WHOLE child. This includes making sure their social/emotional needs are being met as well as providing access to mental health supports. While instructional support staff are helpful, we need to shift our focus from test scores to what is in the best interest of the child.”
  • Top 3 PTA-funded Programs Parents Value Most:
    • Teacher Grant Program
    • One Field Trip per Grade Level
    • Teacher Stipends
  • Electronic Registration & Payment:
    • Respondent Comment: “I appreciate the ease of online membership and ordering, but the $3 fee is annoying. Imagine all of those $3 fees going directly to the school instead.
      • PTA Response: The $3 fee covers the cost charged to PTA by the credit card company. We use the SMSD as a model for how to cover this cost of convenience. Electronic payment is strictly optional, and paper forms are always available upon request.
  • Over 80% of responding Belinder Parents believe PTA provides a range of options and commitment levels for volunteering to meet their schedules and skillsets.
    • Respondent Comment: “Often times these activities and events are scheduled and suited for parents who are married, stay-at-home, or work part-time. Child care options and helping single or working parents attend these events would be appreciated.
      • PTA Response: We are in contact with SME’s SHARE program to send student volunteers to provide child-care for the 2018 Fall General Membership Meeting and Panel Discussion so more parents can hopefully attend.
    • Respondent Comment regarding the PV vs. MH misperception: “That may be so for committee chairs, but what about the executive committee? It seems to lay heavily on the Mission Hills side…
      • PTA Response: Good question. We looked at this, too, and the Executive Committee alone is also equally representative of our Belinder geographic community with 9 PV residents and 10 MH residents.  The 2018-19 slate is the same even after members roll off and new members are added. Bottom line is that this is indeed a misperception, and frankly, is hurtfully dismissive of the equal numbers of Praire Village parents and guardians who are volunteering their time and talents at our school every day. Our bigger, and more consequential, initiative is to recruit more diverse committee chairs that represent all the vibrant ethnic cultures here at Belinder and help our students learn about and celebrate them through everyday interaction. However, as a PV resident myself, I encourage any parents that feel underutilized to contact me directly to help you find a good fit in PTA volunteering. We always want everyone involved who wants to be, and I look forward to meeting you.
  • Ideas for new PTA Programs:
    • Allergy Awareness – please contact us to volunteer to plan an awareness campaign or event. We need your expertise! 🙂
    • Foreign Language – PTA has tried this in the past, and unfortunately, it is unsustainable in its cost, instructor continuity, and learning retention efficacy.
    • Something to get Dads more involved – Dads, please contact us with specific ideas that would interest you.
    • Movie Nights outside or in the gym – We love this idea, and have toyed with it. If you’d attend this and/or could help organize, please click here.
    • Academic Student Assemblies & Tutoring – These are great comments that have been shared with the Belinder Principal as they are not directly under PTA’s purview.
    • Support a Local SMSD School that doesn’t have Belinder’s advantages – We’ve brainstormed ways to do this for a few years, and in 2017 a Belinder parent brought us a fantastic idea that she helped implement at Auction this year: Bidders had the opportunity to sign-up for a croquet party where all proceeds go to a school in need. Our generous Belinder families sent $640 to Comanche Elementary! We hope to continue this annually at Trivia Night/Auction.
    • 5k every year – Done! Watch for more info this Fall!
    • Free Events/Activities – Chat & Chew is now free! There are scholarships available for Carnival. Chili Cook-Off is only $5 per family.  Rocking Reading Week events, including dinner, are free.
  • Ideas for different Fundraisers:
    • One time Donation – As much as we would love to only ask one time, most families prefer to donate a little at a time and enjoy the social aspects of many of the smaller fundraising events. Also, PTA doesn’t have the resources or ability to actually make sure the parents who already donated don’t get asked again.
    • Space them out – We are trying. You’ll notice that the 5K will be almost a month later than the Walkathon used to be, so you’re not inundated the first week of school.
    • Bake Sales – Participate this Wednesday in the 5th Grade’s annual Family Math Night Bake Sale. Everything is one dollar!
    • Lower cost events – Bidding on Auction items is now available remotely, and signing up for Amazon Smile and Hangers Dry Cleaning and participating in Box Tops are easy ways to donate to PTA.

This Fall you will also notice a change that came about through a result that we were seeing from the past few years’ surveys, and that is the replacement of Walkathon with the 5K. The Belinder Brave Run 5K will now be our annual Fall fundraiser that pays for our school-year programs. Many families will still miss the Walkathon, and we recognize that and will support an effort to reinvent this event in a way that makes sense for Belinder students, teachers, and families. Please contact us if you’d like to lead or join a task force to brainstorm what this might look like.

We learned more things from this year’s survey that can’t all be listed here, and we are working to see how we can address the constructive ideas that were presented. Thank you so much for responding to the survey to help us grow and get better!

We thank our engaged community for continually helping in so many ways and sharing their time, energy, and gifts. Through teacher grants, community service projects, field trips, family activities, staff appreciation events, annual variety show, skating parties, and more, our staff, students, and families make Belinder Elementary School a truly special place.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me or next year’s President, Addie Perry. We look forward to hearing from you!

See you Wednesday at our annual Family Math Night event hosted by our awesome teacher and staff volunteers! 🙂

Enjoy the rest of the year!

Bonnie Limbird
Belinder PTA President