SALISBURY — In the past, Salisbury's PTA was always busy, holding sales, paying for enrichment programs for the students at Salisbury Elementary School and fostering a wonderful "can-do" attitude, raising more than $50,000 a year for their educational cause.
During the past two years, however, the group of very involved parents turned into a motivated dynamo. The increased momentum coincided with a time when the Triton School District budget was undergoing deep cuts due to failed override attempts.
Instead of crying over teacher layoffs, large class sizes and lack of money for supplies, books, equipment and technology, these parents stepped up to the plate. And they hit more than one right out of the ball park.
From July 2006 to June 2007 — during a school year that saw the most painful cuts — Salisbury's PTA raised $135,000. It took raffling off a Mustang, selling gifts, recycling cans, saving box tops, holding craft and book fairs, ice cream socials, Memorial Bowls, dancing at the Spring Fling, writing grants and more than a little begging.
During the current school year, the energy level was the same. So far this school year, the group has raised more than $100,000, according to its president, Holly Janvrin, and the year isn't over yet. Joining Janvrin in this whirlwind administration are Vice President Johnna DiFronza, Treasurer Sandy Shute and Secretary Stacy Johnson.
Before the funding crisis, the PTA prided itself in funding enrichment programs for the kids, funding field trips, for example. But things changed when the money got really tight. The result of the fundraising last year bought teachers their wish list of classroom and teaching supplies, material and equipment. It also funded enrichment programs, class events, teachers' luncheons, student publications, books and materials for the school library and Title I Book Room, as well as printers and equipment for the school.
Again this year, every item on the PTA's list of needs was funded, and included four Smart Boards, as well as $4,500 worth of books and materials for the Book Room, $5,000 to buy new books for the library, as well as money to fund student attendance at environmental camp.
According to SES Principal Jim Montanari, everyone at Salisbury Elementary knows how fortunate they are to have this group of parents working on behalf of town children.
Last week, the town's selectmen took a moment to thank the PTA for its energy and passion and its willingness to roll up its communal sleeves for the town's kids and its future.
PTA member Darlene Sweeney said leadership provided by Janvrin and the other officers was the inspiration that led to two such remarkable years. As Janvrin and her fellow officers' terms comes to an end this year, Sweeney believes their impetus can be sustained.
"The PTA has grown a lot over the past two years and that has to do with Holly's leadership, and we're hoping that continues," Sweeney said. "We have a great group of parents who are always there for the kids. When things needed to get done, they did them. Our goal is always the same. It's pulling together to have the best possible school and education for our kids."
For Janvrin herself, her years in office were very fulfilling, and she believes they will serve local students in more ways than their school education.
"We want the kids to know how important they are, and what a voice they have if they use it for the right things," Janvrin said. "Hopefully, our actions will lead them to be respectful and involved adults who will work on behalf of their children and community as well."