PTA funds supplement elementary school programs

Whitney L. Becker

Art class is held in the breezeway. Band class performs down the hall. Space at Lincolnwood Elementary School may be limited, but extra programming is flourishing thanks to parents and teachers.

Lincolnwood, 2600 Colfax St., is one of the schools in Evanston not classified as failing under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Because the school doesn’t need to dedicate as many resources to remedial programs, the PTA is free to sponsor after-school enrichment programs that the district does not financially support.

This fall the Lincolnwood PTA raised $9,300 with a gift wrap drive and approximately $7,000 at its fall festival. The financial goal for the school year is to raise more than $50,000.

“The PTA doesn’t have to worry about programs such as English as a Second Language or Two-Way Immersion here so the money can go to other programs,” Principal Beth Sagett-Flores said. “One major focus has been our new computer lab and the PTA was vital in raising money to help make our lab a possibility.”

The PTA also donated printers to each classroom last year. Before the donation Lincolnwood had one printer for student and teacher use.

The Lincolnwood PTA funds after-school sports clubs, chess, taekwondo, art and foreign language programs. The association also works closely with the teachers to provide extra classroom supplies. Each teacher was presented with $200 and each program specialist was given $100 at the beginning of the school year for additional classroom supplies, physical education teacher Karen Chvojka said at the PTA’s meeting Tuesday. Chvojka represents teachers at the association’s meetings.

Chvojka said the relationship between the parents and teachers at Lincolnwood is excellent and makes Lincolnwood PTA a unique environment.

“Parents support us in every effort and give us what we need to succeed,” Chvojka said. “Whether it’s financial support or volunteering in class as reading tutors or helping fund the computer lab, they are so involved.”

Debby Spertus-Melhus has a child in the second grade at Lincolnwood and is a member of the PTA. Spertus-Melhus said she uses the PTA to keep up on district news as well as help with the artistic projects.

“Although I don’t take a leadership role I have helped with some of the smaller projects like science fair and painting the lunch room,” she said. “This PTA is just so passionate and has unconditional support for the teachers. It is a great environment to be in.”

Creating a positive environment for the teachers and the students is the goal of the association, said parent Vicki Lydon, co-president of the Lincolnwood PTA.

“For us instilling school spirit is the most important thing,” Lydon said. “We want to be able to see our kids get whatever they need and be excited to come to school.”

Orrington Elementary School, 2636 Orrington Ave., also has given its students a variety of enrichment programs. Visiting poets and artists, cultural assemblies and plays, theater workshops for kindergarten through third grade and after school sports clubs are all supported entirely by the PTA. Family movie night fundraisers, dance marathon and holiday celebrations raise the money for the programs.

“I don’t think that the average person realizes that all these programs are run completely from PTA money,” said Janelle Walker, Orrington PTA co-president. “We are fortunate that so many people give so much that we are able to fill the gaps to make our school more competitive with other area schools and other private school programming.”

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