Question: School Districts in Financial trouble should PTO pick up tab?

Our school district like many others is in financial trouble. Should we the PTO be stepping in where the board has left off? Example we have purchased smart boards for the school, we were told they now belong to the school board not our school, should we still be expected to maintain them? Also can the board come after any of our funds if they see the need?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
How much PTOs should fill in the gaps for declining school budgets is a very good question, and there's no single clear answer. It's really up to your group to examine what's going on in your community and make the call. We've heard of groups funding aid and librarian positions, arts programs, even buying cleaning supplies. (Personally, I would draw the line at that one.) The article What Should PTOs Pay For? has a good discussion of this issue. Regarding the smart boards, anything you donate to the school -- items or money -- belongs to the school (district) once the donation is made. At that point, you have no control over how it's used. It's best to make sure, before you make a purchase, that everyone is agreed on how the item will be used, but even then you have no real control afterward. As far as maintenance, that becomes the school's responsibility because they are now the owners of the smart boards. It's worth bringing up the topic of maintenance for anything you purchase, however, because you want the school to be able to get the most use out of it. If they can't afford to maintain the item, that's an issue. Also, if your group is an independent PTO -- you have your own bank account and Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS -- the school can't legally touch your funds. They belong to your group, and your group has sole authority to decide how they are spent.

Community Advice

CMay2CK writes:
Our group is purchasing smart boards this year. They will come with a service plan, but once the plan expires, it is the school's responsibility to maintain them. We happily continue to fund training for our teachers on the more advanced uses of the boards, but not the actual upkeep of them.

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