Question: Do most PTOs fund the practical or the extra?

Do most PTOs fund the practical or the extra? And does that spell PTO success better one way or the other? Few years now I've relocated from one public school to another on 2 opposite sides of the U.S. Very different PTO experiences. So thought I'd ask here to see what general consensus might be or PTO Today viewpoint. Schools both about 300 students. At my eastern school our PTO funded buying the supply list for every kid in school and also purchased the class photo for every child so no kid is left without that lovely school memory due to financial hardships. We also purchased flutophones and books for every 4th grader (to keep) to ensure at least an introduction to musical instrument. Every parent/guardian knew who PTO was and what we di because we universally funded for every child. In contrast, my school here funds what I'll call fluffy things like big flower bouquets for the school secretaries on secretaries day, enormous subs and lattes delivered for teacher appreciation week, Popsicle parties at end of year for the class who raises the most from box tops, and some cute paint job for the school hallways. Budget for both school PTOs is very similar--IMHO the budget here could increase if the fundraiser was run differently--which is where I tried to volunteer but am taking a step back now. I hesitate to get involved mostly because I see the things they do being chosen by a clique (have read your clique articles on here. Thank you for this site!) who seem a bit out of touch. But it has apparently been in place for a long long time this way. Mission statement of the PTO says, "Enrich students' education" Do the purchases support that, do you think? What are other PTOs funding?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
This is such a great question, because it really does underscore a very basic issue within PTOs -- not everyone agrees what it means to "enrich students' education." While we all operate with a general idea of what it means, there are still different points of view and the group your in will reflect what the decision makers think. Lots of folks would argue that helping the teachers and support staff will ultimately benefit the kids by creating a more positive and nurturing environment for those who teach them. Other groups wouldn't consider lattes and bouquets, but instead focus every dollar on something that goes directly into a child's hand. What's the process in your current group for voting on programs, fundraisers? Can you get involved from that aspect? Also, the leaders may seem like a clique (and I'm not saying they aren't), but, sometimes if you reach out to them one-on-one and ask for some information on particular programs, you might find some friendly people after all.

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