ADV PTO Q&A
Hello, ADV Families! We are providing this communication to you to hopefully address any questions you may have or to simply educate you on a new venture our school community is taking on. That venture is forming a ParentTeacher Organization (PTO).
These are questions that were anonymously submitted by attendees of the October 15th PTO presentation, personally posed to PTA at the October 21 meeting, or discussed in online forums.
Where did the idea of a PTO come from?
You might have heard our school is working towards the implementation of a PTO. This idea was originally suggested by a parent at a PTA meeting last year. At that time, the PTA members decided to learn more about the difference between a PTA and a PTO. Over the course of several PTA meetings (February 21, March 21, May 9, September 16, and, most recently, October 21) information was provided to those attending the General Assembly meetings.
Why form a PTO?
Those in attendance at the meetings were overwhelmingly supportive of the move to a PTO for many reasons including applying 100% of any dues paid by members to whatever the PTO membership approves, removing restrictions in how the membership can use its funds, and no longer functioning under the PTA organization that does not fully support charter schools. (see PTO vs PTA: What’s the Difference under “Resources”)
How are PTA’s not in support of charter schools?
While most of PTA’s stances on charter schools are sound, they state in their current 2019-20 positions that “charter schools must not deplete funding from existing public schools.” This has an unfortunate impact when the legislation is in session and our dues dollars are funding a stance that fights against us. Many of our current and past ADV PTA members have heard the PTA speak out against charter schools at county and state meetings. As a school, we believe in supporting all students, and we especially must stand by our charter school students. (see “Resources,” PTA Action Platform Current Position Statement)
Don’t we have to vote to start a PTO?
A PTO is an independent organization that can be started at any time. Per the presentation given on Tuesday, October 15 and the PTA meeting Monday, October 21, an organizational team (what we have called the PTO Executive Team) comes together to work on obtaining an EIN, 501(c)(3), creating of bylaws, etc. That group then presents the bylaws at its first public meeting and voting occurs. *Please see “Resources” below for a link to information on the process, How to Start a PTO and PTO vs PTA: What’s the Difference)
Why do we have a team, and why isn’t it open to everyone?
If you have ever served on a committee you know that you must meet frequently and receive feedback often. We have formed an Executive Team (see How to Start a PTO – organizational team) to oversee this process. During the PTO Interest Meeting held October 15, the PTO Executive Team was announced. There is a point in the process where everyone is involved, but the organizational group completes the footwork first. Just as anything we do has a committee that gets the ball rolling (e.g., Spring Fling, Run for the Arts, etc.), this process is the same.
What was the process for selecting the Executive Team for the formation of the PTO?
As stated above, we must start with an organizational committee that can start the process. All groups of stakeholders are represented – parents, teachers, our Board of Directors, and the community. This unique structure was formed in keeping with our school’s mission and vision. We have three parents, two teachers (one elementary, one middle school), one administrator, two ADV Board members, and one community member. The core of the group are teachers and parents, with the remaining members acting in an advisory capacity. We are blessed with a wealth of parents that are eager to assist, and that is a good position to be in. All stakeholders will be involved once we get to that initial public meeting. Our original PTA had to go through the same process, as well as our school when ADV was first started.
Parents and teachers seem logical, but why are there board members and a community member involved?
Our school was the first charter school in Pinellas county, and many of our volunteer board members have been with us since the beginning – many were ADV parents! They are extremely supportive of our school’s goals and have every student’s best interest at heart. They know our history and they are active in making ADV an integral part of our community . . . which leads us to why we have also included a community member. As mentioned at the meeting on October 15, ADV is still the “little school with the big heart.” We want to work closely with our community to make an impact. We are molding the citizens of the future and that is a beautiful gift that we have been given.
That’s it? We just form a PTO?
Yes . . . and no. Through our information gathering we learned that, as PTA and PTO have no affiliation with one another, it is not unusual for both organizations to run simultaneously while a school transitions from one to the other. It simply takes a group of like-minded people to organize it. Then, that group (the Executive Team) organizes all the fun stuff such as EINs, bank accounts, and bylaws and will hold a public meeting to discuss those items.
What is this PTO Today resource?
Per PTO Today: PTO Today is the #1 resource for PTO and PTA leaders at K-8 schools nationwide. ... Parent group leaders look to PTO Today for products, content, services, events, and programs to help run their group, fundraise, build their community, increase parent engagement, and support teachers.
Please download your selected form, complete it, and return it to school.
Field Trip Permission Forms:
- School Field Trip Permission Form: Please print and complete a form for each trip your child will be attending with the class (as that trip date approaches). Send the completed form to school with your child and give it to the classroom teacher.
- Field Trip/Activities Vehicle Information Form for Vehicle Info: Required by any parent/guardian who plans to drive for a class or school field trip.
Weekly Breakfast and Lunch Order Form: If your child will be ordering Pinellas County school breakfast and/or lunches, please download, print, and fill out this form. Please return to the front office no later than MONDAY morning. Money for each week MUST be included with the form and turned into the classroom teacher.
Don't forget the lunchbox. Students provide their own "bag" lunches, drinks, and snacks OR order the "hot" school lunches delivered daily from Pinellas County Schools. Orders MUST be received on Monday morning for school breakfast and lunches.
Families may join their child for lunch any school day except state exam days. Lunch time is 11:25 - 11:55 (K-2), 11:51 - 12:21pm (5-6), and 12:15 - 12:45pm (3-4), 12:44-1:14 (7-8). "This does not include middle school." Please enter through the front door and sign-in at the office and bring your driver's license with you to receive a visitor's pass.
ALL VISITORS MUST REPORT DIRECTLY TO THE OFFICE CLERK, SHOW PHOTO ID, and SIGN IN.
Academie Da Vinci is an approved agency for providing background checks and fingerprinting through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). A level II background screening is required for any volunteer who will drive our students or work with our students in school without direct supervision of a staff member. A background check (level I) is required for any level of volunteering. See Mrs. Joanne Warner, Office Manager, for paperwork and assistance. If you have volunteered or would like to volunteer on a field trip or in school you must go through this new process. If you have been previously approved through the Pinellas County Schools as a level II volunteer, you may continue to volunteer for up to 5 years since the date of your fingerprint.
Most have been returned to the school, complete with student emergency data. If you have not returned the yellow card, PLEASE complete the information sections, and return the card to school IMMEDIATELY!