PTA says proposal would force it out of schools

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Local representatives say the PTA could be forced out of Utah schools if a new senate bill is signed into law.

The citizen advocating Senate Bill 199 says it's aimed at giving all parents a say in the decisions that affect students. The PTA sees it as a move to force it out.

Utah PTA President Marilyn Simister said, "It's a short bill. It's only about a page and a half. But our first thought was that it was aimed at PTA."

Senate Bill 199 would bar schools from working with parent groups that require parents to pay dues. PTA requires its members to pay a $5 membership fee. Simister said, "This bill would put PTA out of the schools."

Putting PTA out of business is not what the bill's creator had in mind. Provo resident Dawn Frandsen says she asked Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, to sponsor the bill so all parents could have a say in what happens at schools whether they pay dues or not.

"What we are not after is annihilation of the PTA. We do not want to tear them limb from limb. That is not the goal at all," Frandsen said.

"We think that it's very important that parents be allowed to participate without paying for another thing," she added.

Frandsen says the parent organization she's part of at Wasatch Elementary does not require its members to pay fees. And that, she says, has boosted parental involvement.

"When we were PTA we were scraping the bottom of the barrel to get people to show up to meetings. And now, it's not a problem. We have 20 to 30 parents show up to every meeting," she said.

The PTA defends its fees, saying it pays for the association's national dues as well as its activities. It says those activities would go if the PTA is forced out.

Simister said, "Seventy percent of schools in Utah have PTA. And what that would mean is that all of the services and all of the volunteers that we bring would no longer be in schools."

"We just really want to see it defeated," she continued. "We don't think it's in the best interest of Utah schools or its children."

The State Office of Education met with both parties Friday about the bill. Both the PTA and Sen. Bramble were asked to try to reach a compromise.


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