Outside parent groups like PTOs and PTAs can be a big benefit to their respective schools. In the past they’ve improved the educational experience by helping to pay for such things as field trips or new equipment for computers labs. It used to be that as long as an outside entity like a PTO group conducted the fundraising, the school districts didn’t get involved.
This is no longer the norm. One driving force to increased regulation is to attempt to control the high volume of fundraisers that appear to be exhausting the support of many communities.
The second reason that school districts are policing PTO fundraisers is to deal with the issue of fairness. While many schools are able to raise the money they need, others are not. Some claim that this has caused a growing disparity in the quality of education.
The Effects of Limiting Fundraisers
Actually, this can end up being a blessing in disguise. The old adage that says, “Quality is better than quantity” definitely applies. Groups that end up having several sales often end up experiencing fundraising fatigue as both sellers and buyers grow tired of being inundated with endless sales campaigns. Limiting the amount of fundraisers will require better planning, cooperation and coordination between schools and their communities.
Organizations also need to focus more on finding ways to make their existing fundraisers more profitable so they don’t have to rely on additional campaigns. There are many ways to enhance their sale, including bolstering their promotional efforts and offering additional incentives that don’t necessarily have to cost any additional money.
Limits have additionally been placed on what the money generated from PTO fundraisers can be used for. For example, many districts don’t allow for the money to be used for funding teacher positions or to pay for extra equipment.
A distinction has also been made based on the type of fundraiser selected. For instance, passive fundraisers like box tops may not be as regulated as active outside sales that require groups to go into the community for support.
What about School Fairness and Equality?
Should some schools be asked to level the financial playing field? While many schools in affluent communities have succeeded in raising lots of money, many working-class communities have not. The fear that some school districts have is an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor schools. As a result, some schools being able to add extra-curricular programs for their students, like music and even staff development opportunities.
Consequently, some districts now require their schools to contribute a portion of the money that’s raised to a centralized money pool. The money is then redistributed on a per capita basis.
Regardless of where you stand on these issues, it’s important to check with your school district or local council to find out what the specific rules and requirements are as it relates to PTO fundraisers.