Parent group embezzlement stories are back in the news and it’s hard not to get discouraged hearing about school communities—and, specifically, kids—losing out on so much.
But check out this story. It is guaranteed to make you smile.
This time last year, the PTA at Springfield Elementary in Plant City, Fla., had about $25,000 in the bank. Last month, it had to start over with $545.
Its former treasurer was arrested and charged with stealing $17,000. The remaining funds went to pay outstanding bills.
“We were shocked, just shocked,’’ says Kris Trottier, the new PTA president at Springhead, who had worked with the former treasurer. “She was disorganized and always had an excuse for things, but I never thought in a million years that she would have taken money.’’
The group was obviously discouraged. Plus Trottier says she worried that parents would get angry at the whole PTA and not want to trust it anymore.
But just the opposite is happening.
Since word got out about the alleged embezzlement, community members, including another PTA in Plant City, have sent money to help Springhead PTA get back on its feet.
“It just broke our heart,’’ says Yvonne Fry, president of the parent group at nearby Tomlin Middle School, which donated $500. “That school worked so hard. We felt we couldn’t just stand for it.’’
Local businesses and a church also have kicked in. The total amount donated so far: $2,500.
One donation came from a senior citizen, who delivered a $200 check to the PTA, noting that she had been a student at Springhead 60 years ago and wanted to help support the school.
But this story isn’t just about the cash. Trottier says she held a meeting this week about the upcoming Harvest Festival and was amazed at the turnout. Parents are determined to help make this event a success, the PTA president says. For example, parents came up with a plan to seek donations to make themed-baskets that will be raffled at the festival.
“Everyone is letting us know they are here for us,’’ Trottier says.
So, way to go Plant City community, for giving us a different kind of story.
Embezzlement stories are dark—full of disappointment for PTOs that worked so hard. Even the stories of the folks who committed the crime can tug at you because they often are tales of hardships that drove people to make really dumb choices.
But the Plant City folks remind us that sometimes communities really are, well, communities.
As Yvonne Fry says, “ I feel it is our responsibility to help restore something so broken like that.’’