“What is the mission of the Little Silver 5K?” Besides being a well-executed Fall race with a flat, fast course located in a small Jersey Shore town off the GSP Exit 109, the LS5K has been helping Little Silver Schools for 26 years and even more so lately. This USATF Certified Race, great for elite runners and weekend warriors, has become a major fundraiser for the Little Silver PTO.
Parent Teacher Organizations, or PTOs, have evolved tremendously in recent years and are no longer like the PTOs of past generations. In New Jersey, cuts in public school funding from the state, a 2% cap on the tax levy, and rising costs for things like special services, have caused school districts like ours to struggle to stay afloat.
Little Silver prides itself on being a small town with exceptional schools. Our school officials have been working hard to keep our district top-notch and to advocate for positive change. A recent article published on centraljersey.com features our Superintendent,
Dr. Carolyn Kossack and her quest for increased special education funding for state schools.
While some schools have seen cuts in faculty and changes to extra-curricular programs and the arts, to keep our schools top-notch, the Little Silver PTO’s (LSPTO*) fundraising efforts have grown to support this budget crisis as well as supplement our district’s goals of enriching the social emotional health of Little Silver students and helping them become good global citizens.
The LSPTO utilizes an annual budget of over $80,000 and works to enhance the experience of students with enriched cultural programs as well as support our dedicated administration and faculty. We have strategic planning meetings with the community and school administration, cultivate positive working relationships with local businesses, and count on the hard work, dedication, and contributions of business sponsors and parent and teacher volunteers.
In the 2018/2019 school year, for Little Silver Point Road Elementary and Markham Place Middle School the LSPTO managed or funded:
$10,000 of over thirty teacher grants including:
• Curriculum enhancements
• Life skills field trips
• Music/theater workshops and subscriptions
• New technology
• Classroom seating
• Kindergarten water/sensory tables
$26,000 of cultural arts programs including:
• Character building
• Climate change and environmental awareness
• Award-winning author visit by Gordon Korman
• Cultural and music appreciation assemblies and workshops
An after-school extra-curricular program of 13 courses including:
• Coding and other STEM programs
A speaker series for parents on topics such as:
• Nutrition & wellness for families
• The importance of healthy sleep in adolescents and adults
Annual community traditions such as:
• Community Outreach Bag Brigade (this year for the Monmouth County SPCA)
• Father-Daughter Dance
• Mother-Son event
• Talent Show
• Book fairs and Art Show
• 4th-grade moving up brunch and clap out
• 8th-grade graduation dance
Teacher appreciation events and $10,000 towards Principal budgets.
Maintenance of school courtyards and an outdoor progressive mural project at Point Road School were also funded by the LSPTO.
The fundraising efforts needed to provide these enhancements that make our schools so unique have majorly transformed over the years. The Little Silver 5K, initially started by a group of parents in 1993, celebrated its 25th Anniversary last September and became the largest annual fundraiser for the LSPTO in 2016. Dedicated volunteers, sponsors, elite runners, and weekend warriors have grown the race into what it is today.
Being a part of the Silver Anniversary Race and honoring those who started and transformed this important fundraiser was one of the highlights for me as the Co-President of the PTO in 2018.
As the races have grown, so have the expenses. Race logistics, security, t-shirts, and prizes, not to mention the well-attended after party are ALL planned with an attention to detail. This year’s Race Directors, Michelle Koster, Christine Livingston, and Meagan Skinner along with the support from other dedicated LSPTO volunteers have made incredible enhancements to both corporate and family sponsorship levels this year.
The fundraising efforts of parent-teacher organizations twenty-five years ago may have been less demanding than they are today, but it was undoubtedly similar in its goals of bringing enhanced curriculum and cultural arts programs as well as a heart to public schools. Every dollar earned by the LS5K goes directly to funding the annual budget of the Little Silver PTO.
The broader issues in public education demand more significant fundraising, but here in Little Silver, we’re doing the very best we can for the benefit of the kids and the teachers too. Every sponsor and every foot that crosses the finish line is lending a hand and for that we are forever grateful.
Written by Normajean Swiss, Past Co-President, Little Silver PTO, 2017 - 2019
*The LSPTO is a non-profit, 501c3 organization and has approximately 600 member families.