I’m ramping up my involvement in our elementary school, which is arguably one of if not the best public school on the west side, in our beautiful city of Santa Monica. With two boys in and one more on deck, I will be inextricably intertwined with this kinder through fifth grade school for a total of 11 years. Just as my middle son leaves for middle school, my youngest son will begin his kindergarten class. So this is an investment in the truest sense of the word. I need to step it up.
I am already “Room Parent” for my kindergartener, which is basically a mix of glorified secretary (you send out emails to the class) and underpaid cheerleader (you get people to volunteer, donate, and help out.) I try and add some levity to my email blasts, with mixed results (some parents do reply with an LOL), and I try and add a personal touch since I have just experienced this exact classroom and teacher last year with my oldest son. I stick out like a sore thumb as I stroll up to class for drop off or pick up with my cute as a button one-year old son and my I’m here/ I’m queer attitude. As a side note to this, as of this writing neither my husband nor myself has ever seen another same-sex couple on the campus, although there is rumor of one other couple with a child in the upper grades. Woo hoo!
I truly like being Room Parent, because it keeps you in the loop and more involved (sometimes not by choice) with your child’s class. Our kindergartener is our middle child with a heart of gold (and pink and purple), so we welcome the inside scoop on his well-being. He’s doing really well. I also get to know the parents faster than most others, partly because I’m in charge of the class roster, and partly because I’m somewhat (my husband would say extremely) gregarious in an Italian lover kind of way. I do love meeting all the parents.
But I need to do more. As a public school, funding is always an issue. Our particular school, in part due to its location smack dab in the middle of the most affluent part of our city, has not struggled with money as much as the eight or so other schools in the district. Deep pockets have paid for premium staff such as art teachers, music teachers, computer techies, and the like, but starting next year the district has decided to even the playing field. No longer will a school be able to pay towards staffing itself. Any money donated for that use would be collected in a general fund and then dispersed evenly. The district is hoping that the amount of money donated will equal $4,000,000. If that money is not raised in the next ten weeks, our stand out school will be suffering just like all the rest. As of now we are at $2,591,193.
So I’m asking parents to contribute. I’m attending PTA meetings (there might be one or two other fathers among a sea of mothers.) I’ve gone to the district office to speak with the foundation that is in charge of raising funds. I’ve given some ideas. We’ve contributed amounts above our comfort level. Then we contributed some more. I feel like I’m just getting my feet wet, but I need to dive in and start some serious swimming. My sons are depending on it.