Conducted Tuesday morning at River Ridge High School, the PTA’s annual School of Information provided workshops for all local PTA leaders. Topics included increasing membership, providing information needed for different officers and an update on the Georgia PTA’s Reflections Arts Program, with this year’s theme titled “The Magic of a Moment.”
Adam Belanger, president of the Cherokee County Council of PTAs, said the Firefighters versus Faculty basketball game nights will be a collaborative effort between every one of Cherokee County School District’s Innovation Zones and local firefighters.
The goal of the six games, one for each CCSD high school and its respective feeder schools, are to raise money to buy tablet computers for students as well as global positioning system devices for local firefighters. Belanger, who was elected the group’s president in May, said all proceeds from each event will be split down the middle for both teams in each game.
“There are a number of fire stations in the county who don’t have encrypted GPS to get to fires,” Belanger said. “The faster they can get to a fire, the faster they can save a life. We’re also trying to make sure (students) who can’t afford technology still have access to it.”
The idea for the benefit came about this summer when Belanger was playing soccer with his recreational team. A local firefighter and fellow soccer player told Belanger his fire station has to use traditional maps for directions on how to get to a fire, taking extra time to get to the scene and fight the blaze.
“Everybody just looked at me and said, ‘Adam, fix it,’” Belanger said.
After a meeting with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo and several administrators, the idea blossomed and took on from there, Belanger said.
“More and more people we talked to about it really loved the idea,” Belanger said. “Really, it just happened over the summer and has truly taken off. We’re hoping that if we can get enough iPads on trucks we can get people to fires faster.”
Belanger said dates for the games will likely be in January and PTA leaders continue to work on firming up details for each game night. So far, the Atlanta Hawks have already donated tickets to be auctioned off.
Belanger said he hopes to raise enough money to get one iPad or GPS device for a local fire department and a few Kindle Fire tablets for a local school.
“Granted, we’re shooting higher than that,” Belanger said.
Also during the meeting, members strategized on how to get out the message handed down from Georgia PTA leaders expressing the state organization’s opposition to House Resolution 1162. The constitutional amendement will be on the general election ballot Nov. 4 and would allow the state to fund and authorize charter schools without the approval of local school boards.
Though state PTA leaders say the organization does not endorse political parties or candidates, it can and does take position on ballot issues that pertain to the organization’s mission, according to the Georgia PTA website.
Susan Hayes, PTA District 13 director, said she is planning to read a statement in support of the CCSD Board of Education’s stance against the charter amendment during the public input portion of its meeting Thursday night.
“The Georgia PTA recommends voting no on this amendment,” Hayes said. “For our children, it’s important that these decisions be made locally.”
Hayes, who read the amendment aloud to members during the meeting, said she would make her own statement available for distribution to PTA members in order to educate parents on the upcoming vote.
Also discussed at the meeting, Belanger addressed his other two main goals for the year. He said he hopes every CCSD school will achieve model PTA status, meaning they meet all PTA requirements mandated at the state level, and also plans to fly a PTA flag over each district school.
“It’s really to show that we stand with our children and our teachers in this county,” Belanger said of the flags.
He also hopes to increase districtwide PTA membership five to 10 percent. Lisa-Marie Haygood, a local member and Georgia PTA membership chair, led this year’s class discussing increasing membership numbers.
Belanger said official membership numbers will be available at the end of August.
“My passion for PTA, it’s just so large and so deep,” Belanger said. “I see all these children and when they see a dad in school, they just light up. We just need to get more dads involved, period.”
Belanger said the participation increase means reaching out to more people and getting more things accomplished in the schools.
Belanger previously served as PTA president for two years and vice president for one year at Holly Springs Elementary School, where his two children are both enrolled.