Should PTAs Reveal Their Budgets?
At the Tuesday Open Thread, I noticed a discussion going on over this Facebook post from some members of Soup for Teachers (partial):
We need your help. We are a small group of parents with kids in public elementary schools in Seattle who are seeking some data from parents from all public elementary schools in the Seattle School District.The issue seems to be whether laying out - for both the district and the state - what Seattle PTAs raise and what they spend it on will interest/compel those two entities to better consider funding.
Parents play a critical role in the success of our public schools in Seattle. Parent fundraising for individual schools is also an important component of what we parents do to improve Seattle Schools overall. While each school’s parents groups independently raises varying levels of money for their school, how money gets spent at schools is important. Often, that money is used to augment programs available at school, provide stop gaps for district funding shortfalls, and offer important things like scholarships for school fees, if there are any. The real impact of parent fundraising has not been enumerated and it should be. As such, we are requesting that parents from as many Seattle Public elementary schools to do two things:
1. Submit their school’s budget for the 2015 to 2016 school year that includes parent fundraising contributions and how they are allocated to SeattleSchoolsSurvey@gmail.com. This should include grants that parents were responsible for obtaining. We only need one budget per school.
2. Complete a very short survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/75V52FW. The survey will help contextualize budgets and general opinions about parent fundraising efforts. This could be as many parents as possible from each school.
We are collecting budgets and surveys through August 30, 2016. All surveys provided will be confidential. We will combine data from budgets and surveys provided and no individual school names will be reported. We may report out by areas, for example, in North Seattle… Budgets will be analyzed for amount of funds raised, per student by area of Seattle, how parent contributions are used (staffing, afterschool programming, etc.), and data from surveys will analyzed for themes that emerge from responses. Our process for analyzing data collected will be inclusive of the wider community.
If you have any questions before you choose to participate, please email SeattleSchoolsSurvey@gmail.com.
Yours in community activism,
Jay Gilvydis, Liza Rankin, Chandra Hampson
My opinion is that, in the end, it would hurt more than help. I could see people getting very upset over the high sums raised by some PTAs but that is something neither the district nor the state can change. It may create division among parents when there should be unity on getting full-funding for all the schools in our state.
Naturally, what we are seeing is that more PTAs are raising funds for teachers and staff (and, in some cases, basic maintenance) and that should be made known to the legislature. I believe the district is well-aware of the funding happening and love it.
What may not be widely-known on this topic is that some principals, like Ingraham's Martin Floe, do not allow their PTAs/PTOs to pay for staff. Floe told me years back that it is a great burden to the PTA to fund someone's job year after year and he worries about when they wouldn't be able to continue to do so and he would have to end that position (or find the funds on his own.) I agree with him.
As well, if people believe that there should be sharing of fundraising dollars among PTAs, that's an issue to take up with the WSPTSA and the SCPTSA.
So here were some of comments at this blog:
I'm somewhat alarmed that the Soup for Teacher's folks are trying to go find PTA budgets. Just like the Randy Dorn lawsuit this probably has potential to harm individual schools without actually fixing the budget issue. I wish people would spend their energies on the election advocating for legislative candidates around the state who support their positions instead.
Charitable organizations are required to disclose their annual tax returns and their application for tax exemptions. I don't believe they must disclose anything else. The state public records act doesn't apply to them.
The end state of this while well meaning is most likely to be restrictions on PTA's spending rather than increased funding from the gov't. For instance, this would be an awesome way to kill the language immersion schools or IB programs in the name of equity. *sigh*
@Harrison. I totally agree. Again we end up with school pitted against school instead of keeping the focus on the legislature properly funding education. I hope PTAs don't share their budgets. It will just be another distraction from the real issue of properly funding schools.