While local PTA leaders have stressed the importance of parent engagement, membership in Jefferson County’s 15th District PTA has decreased the last three years.

Parent engagement has long been said to be crucial to student success, and local leaders are asking parents to step up participation.

President Cherie Dimar said in the 2009-2010 school year the 15th District PTA—which includes 141 local PTAs—had 55,521 members. The following year there were 47,287 members and last year membership was at 41,514.

Membership for the PTA varies depending on location but costs can run up to several dollars.

“We did expect to see a decrease in membership slightly just because of the economic conditions of today’s society,” said Aneeka Ferrell, diversity consultant for the 15th District PTA.

According to data from the National PTA, June 2012 membership is up 4.76 percent–or 4,901 members– from June 2011 data. Further the number of local PTAs is up 10.5 percent–444–when compared to last year's numbers.

Dimar said the economy may be playing a role in the smaller numbers, but she says fewer participants means a smaller voice.

“Just even joining, that membership adds to the number of people that are in our organization and that gives us more power because we also do advocacy at the state level and we also go to the national level,” said Dimar.

Last year was also when the state began implementing its common core standards and its new accountability system, and education officials says educating the public on what the changes mean is crucial.

Over the past year, the 15th District PTA has educated over 9,000 participants on changes to the state’s accountability system through a grant from the National PTA.

The group is offering a workshop on the common core standards adopted by Kentucky and most states last year.

The meeting will take place Wednesday at the Highlands branch library at 7 pm.

For more information visit the 15th District PTA website.