A new spending survey conducted by PTO Today shows that school parent groups are increasingly feeling pressure to provide more money and manpower to help their schools offset education budget cuts.
The survey results, which first appeared in our March 2012 issue, show the bind many parent groups are in: While their schools need them to help out more than ever, their members are often struggling with their own personal economic woes, making it all the harder to fund projects. As a result, PTO leaders must get a lot more creative and often work even harder.
In our report, more than half of the 600 leaders surveyed said their parent group had been asked to do more to financially support their school, while 44% reported their groups had been asked to help with more volunteering. In addition, 26% reported a decline in fundraising in the last year.
The data builds on a trend we’ve been seeing for years. Increasingly, parent groups are asked to help fund what we once considered the basics to run a school as the schools get whacked with budget cuts. So, instead of focusing on funding the so-called extras, PTOs and PTAs are being called upon to help fund core educational components, from personnel, such as librarians and front-office staff, to programs like art, music and even gym.
And at least two stories in the news this week underscore these PTO Today findings:
- In a Long Island Business News article published on March 26, a selection of parent groups are highlighted that maintain budgets in excess of half a million dollars to help fund core functions, including kindergarten assistants. The story points out that at the Carpenter Community Charter School in Studio City, Calif., families are encouraged to give a “recommended’’ amount of $700 per child. The PTA president is quoted as saying, “We can’t conceive of a world where music isn’t integral.’’
- On March 23, the Arizona Daily Sun posted an article that shows how school parent groups in that state are taking on more sophisticated fundraising projects, such as buying iPads and funding running tracks. Parent groups are brainstorming to come up with fundraising strategies to help them meet these loftier goals. So is your group feeling the pressure? What are you doing to help balance what are sometimes competing needs; as you respond to your school but at the same time try not to push parents too much?
So is your group feeling the pressure? What are you doing to help balance what are sometimes competing needs; as you respond to your school but at the same time try not to push parents too much?