The Riverside-Brookfield High School Patrons Council has been renamed itself the Riverside-Brookfield High School Parent Teacher Organization. The mission of the group remains the same: to support the school and help fund things that are not in the budget.
PTO president Cathy Louthen says the name change, which was unanimously approved at a meeting earlier this year, is designed to boost membership.
“Parents just coming into the system did not know what Patrons Council was and, therefore, they never joined,” Louthen said. “Because many of these parents come from schools that have PTAs and PTOs, if they see that, they might be willing to join.”
Louthen also said that she hopes the name change leads to more teachers getting involved in the group.
However not everyone is thrilled by the name change.
I think the [name] Patrons Council is more inclusive,” said JoAnne Kosey a member of the group for more than 30 years and a past president of the group. “I always joined Patrons Council every year, even though I don’t have a child there. But now that you are saying Parent Teacher Organization, I’m out. I’m excluded.”
Louthen said that people who are not parents of RBHS students are still welcome to join the PTO.
“We didn’t want to offend anyone by changing the name,” Louthen said.
Kosey said that she knows that people who are not the parents of current students can join the PTO, but said that the name Parent Teacher Organization gives the impression that only parents and teachers can join.
She said she fears that the name change will discourage community members who are not parents of RB students from joining the organization.
“Patrons Council was, to me, all-inclusive,” Kosey said. “I’m a traditionalist. It’s something that’s been there for years. It’s not going to bring more people in. I don’t think it was a smart move.”
Kosey noted in today’s families some children are being raised by grandparents and there are all sorts of non-traditional families.
Louthen said the goal was to bring in more members and not to be exclusionary.
“We just felt it might help,” Louthen said.