Notes from the Elementary PTA/PTO Fundraising Equity Conversation hosted by the Bellingham Schools Foundation on Febrary 15, 2018

On February 15th, I attended a “Fundraising Equity Discussion” hosted by the Bellingham Schools foundation. Ten of the fourteen elementary school PTAs and PTOs were represented, and we had a productive hour of collaboration and sharing of ideas.

The discussion began as an idea at Columbia Elementary. They found themselves with an excess budget one year, at the same time they learned about severe deficits in other schools, and in pursuit of the ‘One Schoolhouse’ dream and in true Bellingham Promise spirit, they began asking if there was a way to help the community instead of just their own school.

One of the inequities they’ve found are in the availability and cost of before and after-school enrichment programs. The schools who could use them most have none, and the families who most need the programs can’t afford them. Each school which does offer enrichment programs has a huge volunteer burden to maintain and manage it, again with the most volunteer resources being available at the schools with the least need. As a group we came to the conclusion that this is a perfect area for the district and foundation to step in, possibly to pursue a centralized enrichment coordination system.

A second inequity that we spoke about for some time was that of teacher stipends. The stipends range from none at all at some schools up to $1,000 each year for each teacher at other schools. We know that every teacher is spending at least some of their own money for the benefit of their classroom and students, so the group agreed that each would discuss with their boards and membership the idea of an agreement among the fourteen PTOs and PTAs to try to make Elementary School Teacher Stipends the same across the district for the 2018-2019 school year.

There were many more topics discussed; if you’d like additional information, contact Ken Putney at [email protected]