Question: PTO Offering Discounts To Children of it legal, fair?

My child is attending a new school. I recently attended a PTO meeting. I found out that last year the PTO voted to raise their membership fees/dues and to then offer a discount only to the children of PTO members on school sanctioned field trips. If one parent with three children in separate grades joins the PTO all three children would receive a discount which would greatly exceed the membership fees/dues. If you have more than one child in the school you stand to benefit more than others by this system. Also this does not take into account the parent/child that participates in raising money for the school by attending on site and off site school functions that require payment and participating in fund-raising which puts all the money into the PTO account. So, with this ruling in place, a parent can pay the PTO fees/dues and never go to a PTO meeting or help raise money for the school in any way but their child would receive a discount and a parent that didn’t join the PTO could participate in every fund-raiser and event the school held, possibly contributing hundreds of dollars to the PTO, but they would not be entitled to a discount. Is this legal? Is it fair?

Asked by VolMom



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
I don't know about legality, but it certainly seems unwise. It opens up all of the questions you list. On top of that, the PTO hopefully aims to provide equal access to educational enrichment for all students. Whether or not this policy -- in practice -- limits opportunity for some, the perception is certainly there. In truth, I've never seen the advantage of having "members" who don't participate. Yes, you collect membership dues, but you also give people the feeling that they've "done enough" by paying dues. If you focus your efforts on building involvement rather than getting people to pay for a membership, you'll end up with more money in the long run. You'll have more people who feel connected to your group in a real way and so more people willing to contribute, help fundraise, etc.

Answer this question: