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Writing the Next Chapter: PTO Pays for Renovations to Face Lift School Library

Green Trails Elementary needed a new library, and the PTO wasn't going to let the fact that the Parkway School District is facing financial difficulties stand in the way. "The PTO stepped up because the library was literally falling apart," Green Trails PTO president Beth Feldman said. "We wanted to bring the library into the 21st Century and make it the hub of the school. And now it is; teachers are signing up for space. It wasn't that way before." At the end of the last school year, the PTO asked Green Trails principal Sean Doherty what they should do with the money raised that year. "Put it toward the library," Doherty said. A year later, the $63,000 project is complete, and Green Trails students have a new library complete with international flags and clocks displaying the current time of many of the students' native countries. Renovations to the library are something the district would normally pay for, but because Parkway is in the middle of cost containment, parents decided to take on the project themselves. Other schools in the district are coming to similar conclusions. McKelvey Elementary's PTO recently raised $30,000 to install air conditioning in the gymnasium, and Mason Ridge Elementary's PTO funded a new $20,000 playing field. Despite $6.5 million in cuts over the past few years, Parkway projects that without new revenues or substantial budget cuts, the district would spend $10 million more than it receives by 2010. Meetings with school communities are taking place across the district to discuss Parkway's "current reality," and to elicit feedback about how the district might respond. Meanwhile, the Green Trails library project is complete a year ahead of schedule, due to so many families "buying a book" on the bookshelf mural that spans one wall of the new library. The PTO raised $36,000 in donations for the library, with the names of those donors written on the spines of the books in the mural. The remaining funds came from successful fundraisers held this year, including at $20,000 Trivia Night. "This is a long time dream I had that was able to come true because of the PTO," principal Doherty said. "I never thought it would be this great." Green Trails and Chesterfield mayor John Nations will officially open the new library at a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Monday, May 22.