Is your PTA online?

I gave myself a mission to contact PTA “webmasters”, and frankly I am disappointed that most schools have absolutely no information about their respective PTA, much less how to find them online. I am scratching my head trying to figure this out. I can understand that PTAs are simply volunteers, and it is entirely possible that most do not know how to generate a webpage (even though there are wide array of tools to help with this). The bigger issue, I think, is that Unit 4 does not make this easy at all. Unit 4 gives the “keys” of the PTA page to the school principal – if the principal has any free time whatsoever (a rare occurrence, I am sure *grin*), what are the chances they are also quite web-savvy and know how to get their PTA online? Of the few schools that have information on their PTA page, some have no links, email addresses and/or phone numbers. Makes it really hard to contact folks like that. 🙂

 

My self-appointed mission? To make it a ton easier to get PTA information in a webpage. Heck, I would even volunteer to pop up a very basic page for each school. The tricky part is ongoing sustainability, and teaching all the right people the steps they have to go through. Ideally, I would want to remove the PTA information out from under the principals domain; I am confused why that is set up that way. As part of that, I would encourage PTA folks to use a 3rd party site (not champaignschools.org). Unit 4 is joining up with IlliniCloud, and I have hopes (and designs) to get them to host more stuff for us. If that falls through, there is always the IMC, and I can donate some space as well.

 

Some schools have some nice stuff setup already. Some are using facebook, at least one is using tumblr, several are using Google Groups (and even Google Sites), a couple utilize u4friends.org (I have a mail to Mr. G David Fyre about that), and one seems to be run by a colleague at work (small world, eh?). I had a great meeting with Maeve Reilly last Friday; she is currently helping the Centennial PTA and has inherited a Google Sites/Groups setup. I also got her going on a Facebook Page. It is great that parent volunteers are stepping up to the plate. But why are each of us re-designing the wheel? Why is there so little apparent support from the schools? Keep in mind, I have a limited perspective on this – most assuredly, I am receiving a lot of support from our school. But system-wide, I see very little support.

 

More to follow.

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7 Responses to “Is your PTA online?”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    After spamming all the schools, I had some interesting feedback. I’ll summarize in a wordpress-mangled table – note that it is not my intent to shame anyone, rather I wish to show the great diversity in which technology is implemented and utilized (and the lack thereof).

    Champaign Schools

    SchoolContact personAffiliationPTA WebsiteNotes

    PTA CouncilBrian MinskerPTA Webmasterhttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/champaignptacouncil/PTA Council is currently using Yahoo Groups for email distribution. No official website yet.

    Centennial High SchoolMaeve ReillyPTSA memberhttps://sites.google.com/site/centennialhs/Using google to host the site and listserver, also recently on facebook

    Central High SchoolNancy Snell & Michelle HorvatPTSA Co-PresidentsnoneThey currently have no volunteers to run the website; would like help.

    Edison Middle SchoolG. David Frye / Angie PattonLocal volunteer / PTA Vice Presidenthttp://edisoncomets.weebly.com/ptsa.htmlThe entire school site is built on weebly, hosted by u4friends.org*; Angie Patton is a blogger, and G. David Frye hosts u4friends.

    Jefferson Middle SchoolDavid HohmanTechnology Instructorhttp://groups.google.com/group/jefferson-ptsa-email-list?hl=enObviously using Google Groups. Update 19-Sep: Heard back from Susan Zola and Dave Hohman – they have no PTSA at the moment.

    Franklin Middle SchoolGinger McKeePTA Secretaryhttp://www.champaignschools.org/schools/PTA/?id=21Ginger uses her gmail account to send out announcements; I suspect the school principal is the one that updates the Unit 4-owned webpage

    Barkstall Elementary School????noneupdate 19-Sep: I was put in touch with the PTA President Jennifer Phillips. Still awaiting more information.

    Bottenfield Elementary SchoolChuck GibsonVolunteerhttp://www.bottenfieldpta.org/Looks to be hosted by DreamHost – I think Chuck did all the GUI stuff by hand

    BT Washinton Elementary SchoolMary HynesPTA Secretaryhttp://www.champaignschools.org/schools/PTA/?id=18Hosted by Unit 4. PTA President Teri McKean is putting me in touch with Secretary Mary Hynes. Using Google Groups.

    Carrie Busey Elementary SchoolCharles SchultzPTA Memberhttp://www.champaignschools.org/schools/PTA/?id=11Landing page currently hosted by Unit 4, but we will be changing soon. Have a presence on Google Groups and Facebook.

    Dr. Howard Elementary SchoolJoan ColePTA Webmasterhttp://drhoward.u4friends.org/Hosted by u4friends. Could be a custom setup; nice layout, HUGE listing of PTA officers/volunteers.

    Garden Hills Elementary School????noneThe principal has bounced me to the PTA President, but nothing further.

    Kenwood Elementary SchoolAmy LambPTA Webmasterhttps://www.bigtent.com/groups/kenwoodptaHosted by BigTent, which is an interesting web developement platform for groups. Have to be a member to enter the site. Site is strangely not linked from the Unit 4 page (but Amy tells me she is working on that).

    Robeson Elementary School????noneupdate 19-Sep: Got a hold of PTA President Holly, who is trying to locate the URL and the webmaster

    South Side Elementary SchoolMark AtkinsonPTA Technology Committeehttp://www.champaignschools.org/schools/PTA/?id=17Another site that looks to be solely hosted by Unit 4. Possibly meeting with PTA Committee chair for further discussions.

    Stratton Elementary SchoolShannon LongVolunteerhttp://strattonpta.tumblr.com/A Tumblr site. Not linked from the Unit 4 page (@papaathome, looking at you, man!)

    Westview Elementary SchoolCarrier Garner / Sara EasterPTA Vice President / Secretaryhttp://www.champaignschools.org/schools/19/ files/pta_newsletter/September_2011.pdfHosted by Unit 4. Carrie manages the Yahoo Groups, Sara does the newsletter. There is a stale Twitter site.

    Urbana Schools

    SchoolContact personAffiliationPTA WebsiteNotes

    Leal Elementary SchoolGreg ErbachPTA Presidenthttp://www.lealschoolpta.com/The Unit 116 site is out-of-sync with the site I listed here. Might be stale

    MLK (King) Elementary School????http://www.usd116.org/king/index.php/parents/No obvious contact information

    Prairie Elementary SchoolMichele MaederPTA Presidenthttp://www.usd116.org/prairie/index.php/parents/pta/They also have a facebook page

    Thomas Paine Elementary SchoolSteve FoglePTA Presidenthttp://www.usd116.org/tpaine/index.php/parents/

    Wiley Elementary SchoolKatrina WefelPTA Presidenthttp://www.usd116.org/wiley/index.php/parents/

    Yankee Ridge Elementary SchoolDana MancusoPTA Presidenthttp://yrpta.weebly.com/Good use of weebly. They even have a blog. 🙂

    Urbana Middle SchoolDorothy Gable / Lenny DeForgePTSA President / Secretaryhttp://www.usd116.org/ums/index.php/ptsa/

    Urbana High SchoolLenny DeForgePTSA Vice Presidenthttp://www.usd116.org/uhs/ptsa/

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    *u4friends.org

    This domain name is owned and was setup by G. David Frye. I have spoken with him and I think Carrie Busey will starting using u4friends.org for a landing page, at least for the near future. He has approached the PTA Council in the past about offering them space, but that fell through. Don’t know the full story on that. He is still open to sharing subdomains, so contact him if you are interested.

    More to follow.

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Still ferreting out updates and information. Some PTA members have expressed an earnest desire for help. Some schools have no PTA! Others have a strong online presence. It is quite amazing! And I am meeting some really cool people.

    My next mission is to see what Urbana is doing.

    Another concurrent mission is to work with G. David Frye to get more PTAs online. He is already working to get a site (aka, subdomain) for Carrie Busey under u4friends.org.

    Part of me wants to volunteer to start up a PTA for schools that do not have one. I must be crazy! 🙂

    What really bothers me is that Unit 4 has said “the PTA is the face of the school”. I am hearing from another PTA President that “[w]e felt [PTA website] was integral to success at our school”. I believe both of these are true, and I sincerely want our schools to succeed.

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    The Urbana School District has a really nice template for PTAs. Most schools are using the template to at least put out a bare amount of information. Two schools appear to use other platforms (weebly and something else), but still linked from the Urbana School District template. A nice feel overall, and not too hard to find contact information.

  5. Shannon Long Says:

    weebly looks cool. i might play around with it a little.

  6. PTA Council « A citizen’s blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] listed, just key players). This is good information to have, especially given my earlier effort to contact all the PTAs. A couple other things stuck out to […]

  7. charlesdschultz Says:

    I sent a general email yesterday giving a heads up that I will be setting up a email list for those interested in a “Tech Committee”.

    I have not decided the best way to organize this group. Google Groups? Google Sites? WordPress? I have to think about the goals of this group and what we hope to accomplish. We will discuss that at today’s Wednesday Houlihan’s forum.


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