Piney Ridge Elementary School hasn't opened its doors yet, but Roxanne Wojcik is already compiling a list of needs, such as a tot lot anda microwave for the teachers' lounge.
Wojcik is not a teacher, a supplies purchaser or an administrator. The Sykesville resident is acting president of the newly formed Piney Ridge Parent-Teacher Association, one of two new such groups in the county. The other is at Spring Garden Elementary School in Hampstead.
Parent-teacher associations, or similar organizations, are flourishing in Carroll. Each of the district's 32 schools has some sort of organization, be it a parent-teacher association, a parent-teacher organization, or a parent advisory council.
Wojcik said the interestin forming a PTA at Piney Ridge in Eldersburg has been overwhelming.Even so, forming an organization has been a months-long project and one that will not be completed until the fall.
"I've been stuck onthe phone since June," she said. "It's taken so long to get this far. Can you imagine how long it would have taken if we had waited untilschool started to get going?"
As concern about education has grown in recent years, so has interest in the Carroll County Council of PTAs, an organization that has existed since the late 1930s and is making efforts to re-establish itself as a bond among PTAs in the county.
"We're in upward cycle right now," said Bryon Turfle, the council's president. "It's always been a cyclical thing in this county. There's been a scurry of activity from locals to do something on a county basis."
The council's purpose is to provide leadership and training programs for the officers of local associations and to develop unity among the county's 17 PTAs, which have a membership of about 5,800, said Turfle, who works in the school system's purchasing department.
"(The locals) have decided networking is a good thing and they can do networking through the council," the Winfield resident said.
The local PTAs are part of a national network of parent-teacher associations, the members of which follow national and state guidelines and pay dues. Parent-teacher organizations and parent-advisory councils are informal groups with similar goals to enhance educational opportunities at schools.
"We're not part of any national group," saidEileen Mayle, president of the North Carroll Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization. "We make up our own guidelines. Any money we makefrom fund-raisers goes directly for the school."
Fund-raisers andmembership drives at the school have been successful, said Mayle, a Manchester resident. She estimated that 75 percent to 80 percent of the parents of the school's 900 students are active in some way with the organization.
"(Membership) has increased a little each year," she said. "I think people want to become more involved with their children. Probably the best way to do that is to become involved with their school. It's a way to find out what's going on in the schools andto make the schools more effective."
Fund-raisers, like sales drives of wrapping paper and candy, have allowed the organization to purchase classroom equipment, fans (the school isn't air-conditioned), and teaching materials. The organization and the school also participated in receipt collection to receive computers from Super Thrift in Manchester.
Parental involvement doesn't end after middle school.
Cathy Webb, co-chair of the Parent Involvement Committee at South Carroll High School, said membership has been increasing there every year, too.
"I think more people are going back to traditional values," the Sykesville resident said. "Family is important and the community has to be involved in the schools."
Like parent-teacher associations, the committee sponsors events, such as after-prom parties, encourages volunteerism among parents, and supports teachers by having staff appreciation events twice a year.
Webb said the core membership of the committee consists of about 50 parents. However, several hundred parents support the committee in other ways, participating in fund-raisers and other activities, she said.
To encourage membership, she said the committee attends ninth-grade orientation, back-to-school and other programs to let parents know about its activities.
Parental involvement, especially in the higher grades, can be a mixed bag, as far as students are concerned, she said.
"Most of the kids are real happy we're involved," Webb said. "They just don't want their own parents chaperoning events. Anybody else's parents are fine."