Saturday, August 03, 2013

Seattle Council PTSA Clarifies Fundraising Issue

Not completely (more on that at the end) but better.  (Notes in red are mine.)

From SCPTSA;
Why the sudden change in policy of the new 10% fee for fundraising on school grounds by the district?

It not really a new policy, but more accurately a policy the district should have been following but was not. In a workshop sponsored by WASBO (Washington Association of School Business Officials) the district learned they were not in compliance with State laws around Associated Student Body (ASB) activities and funds (WAC 392-138-010, RCW 28A.325.020 and RCW 28A.325.030). The rules indicated the following activities turn a parent group fundraiser into an ASB activity:
*    A majority of the work is performed by the students.
*    The parent group uses the school name.
*    The use of district facilities is not followed per district policy.
*    School district personnel are involved during staff time (during the school day).

According to these state laws, when a fundraising activities meets these requirements, then the ASB receives a portion of the proceeds. The procedures suggested a fee of up to 40%, but SCPTSA worked with the district to compromise at 10% or $1500 maximum. We were happy with this compromise, and we are happy that the 10% goes back to students at the school. It seemed more reasonable, and it was still within the letter of the State law. 

SPS is NOT charging any fee to manage these funds (and they could) and will take no money from any of this type of fundraising.

What are ASB funds? What is ASB?
According to the State law definitions, ASB is "Associated Student Body organization" a formal organization of students, including subcomponents or affiliated student groups such as student clubs, which is formed with the approval, and operated subject to the control, of the board of directors of a school district in compliance with this chapter.

(2) "Associated student body program" means any activity which (a) is conducted in whole or part by or in behalf of an associated student body during or outside regular school hours and within or outside school grounds and facilities, and (b) is conducted with the approval, and at the direction or under the supervision, of the school district.

Each school has their own ASB account to use for student activities for that specific school. The principal manages this account in elementary schools, and students participate in the management of the ASB fund in secondary schools.  There are very specific guidelines for how this money can be spent, but it must be used for students. 

How does the PTA pay the portion of proceeds to the ASB fund? How will this policy be implemented?

So, if a PTA has a fundraiser on school grounds during school hours, the PTA must pay the school ASB fund 10%, up to $1500 (correction from the previous enews).  If the fundraising event meets these conditions the principal must approve the activity and a contract is signed by both the principal and the school PTA.  The template of this contract has been provided to all principals by the district. 

At the end of a fundraising event, the school PTA writes a check to the school ASB fund. The principal then has the discretion to choose how to use those ASB funds (within State law).  The district can not use the money for whatever they want; the money in ASB funds is intended to stay at the school for the students. 

I was told that the STUDENTS (likely along with the PTA officers representing parents) decide how the money will be used.  I have no idea why the principal would get to decide over the parents who are directing the activity.  I will seek clarification again on this point.

Why had PTAs not heard about this ASB policy before?

The district sent this policy to ALL elementary school principals in April, and re-iterated it for us again yesterday.  The district policy states:

To comply with state law, Seattle Public Schools developed new procedures for school-based fundraising. If fundraisers occur during the school day and involve students, we are required to ensure that students receive a portion of the proceeds. We worked with PTSA leadership during the past school year to create these procedures, which are aimed at making sure that our students retain a portion of the proceeds for events that they participate in.  As a result, if a PTSA fundraiser is an activity that is co-sponsored with ASB, 10 percent - up to $1,500 - goes to the school's ASB fund.

I find this section confusing because it implies that high school and middle schools have been doing this already and they realized that elementaries should be as well.  I'll have to ask.

Here are the exact "rules" as laid out by the District (these rules were sent to Principals in April 2013):

1)      PTSA Fundraiser
If the activity is carried out in accordance with all 3 items listed below, it is a PTSA event (not ASB or Co-sponsored) thus the PTSA retains all proceeds:
            A) outside of regular school time (after school, evening or weekend)
            B) the PTSA does the event planning, organizing, money-handling
            C) the event is advertised as a PTSA fundraiser (i.e. Adams PTSA, Ballard Athletics Booster Club).

2)      Co-Sponsored Fundraiser
If the activity (walking, reading, etc.) is carried out during school time, it is a co-sponsored event, and both PTSA and students (ASB) will share the proceeds according to a pre-approved agreement.  School time includes lunch and recess periods. The percentage allocation may vary according to the distribution of services; at minimum, the ASB will be allocated 10% of the proceeds up to $1,500.

Are all PTA fundraising activities and events required to pay the 10% portion of proceeds to ASB funds? 

No.  Only fundraising activities during the school day that require the use of district staff (teachers, etc.) and requires student activity (such as running or walking for a Walk-A-Thon) are required to pay the ASB 10% ($1500 maximum). Auctions, direct donations (annual donation campaigns), and other PTA fundraising activities not meeting these ASB requirements are NOT subject to this allocation of proceeds. 

We hope this clarifies the policy and gives some background as to how it came about. We apologize for any confusion this caused - and will do our best to keep you posted if anything changes! The district understands how important PTA fundraising is, and they are working with SCPTSA to ensure that we can continue this activity and follow the law.  We are working together on this issue. Please contact me at president(at)seattlecouncilptsa.org if you have any more questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Katherine Schomer
President, Seattle Council PTSA

3 comments:

In the know - really said...

How anyone (e.g. PTA's, District staff - including principals, etc.) can say they didn't know about these requirements is baffling. The SAO wrote an audit finding on this topic back in 2006. See page 6 at http://www.sao.wa.gov/findings/70857.pdf titled "Associated Student Body money was inappropriately deposited in private bank accounts." Although not the same circumstances, for the District to not follow the requirements is inexcusable.

The statement made by Ms. Schomer "According to these state laws, when a fundraising activities meets these requirements, then the ASB receives a portion of the proceeds" does not appear to be accurate. My reading of the law, not District procedures, is that all of the money in those circumstances goes to the ASB, not just a portion of it, because it is public money - not private money.

Some sample sentences from the finding:
"At least $96,011 in public funds raised by students and District employees was not deposited into a District bank account. The money instead was deposited into private bank accounts that were wholly or partly controlled by coaches or parents.";

"When ASB and booster club funds are commingled, the entire amount is considered to be public money and is subject to state law pertaining to ASB funds."

The District's response at the time:
"The District concurs with this finding. Training of appropriate District personnel and relevant policies will be made mandatory and enhanced to ensure there is clarity between an ASB sanctioned activities from that of other, non district sanctioned groups including Booster clubs. In addition, the District will ensure that ASB money is deposited in ASB accounts in accordance with state law and District policies." (bold mine) It doesn't look like any mandatory training was conducted, or was ineffective at best.

There are other WACs that regulate this activity beyond the ones Ms. Schomer mentions. They are mentioned in the finding. One of them is WAC 392-138-014 Accounting procedures and records, which makes the distinction between "Associated Student Body public money" and "nonassociated student body private moneys".

Granted, it's has been over 7 years since this finding was issued, but the information is out there. And, there have been changes in principals. But that is no excuse. If someone becomes a principal, they need to be aware of all legal requirements - or at least be aware that they should inquire about legal requirements around ASB and other activities.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 'In The Know'.

This is common practice & commonly known in high schools. All money raised with student participation in fundraising must go to ASB. Not PTSA or Boosters or any other organization. This is where student exchange programs like Roosevelt & Garfield have, ran into trouble. Because the money raised this way has to be used under the WAC governing ASB accounts & can not be donated to outside groups like travel expenses for foreign students.

I also do not think that the 10% given to ASB is legal. It must be all the income from the event. The WACs governing ASB fundraising also do not limit it to the school day. So I don't understand where SPS is getting their information.

I think that this is the first time SPS is communicating this to elementary schools because they have assumed that those students do not participate in fundraising.

-HS parent

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