Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PTAs to be neutered under new policy

Auctions, raffles would be banned; Dept. of Education employees forbidden to hold offices


Staten Island Advance

December 28, 2009

Call it a 50-50, Chinese auction or penny social.

If it involves raffle tickets, no numbers will be called after next month, if
city officials approve proposed changes to how PTAs function.

The new policy, to be voted on at a meeting at Brooklyn Technical High School on
Jan. 26, could cause schools to lose tens of thousands of dollars in funds that
have paid for classroom supplies, smartboards and even a music teacher.

"It's our biggest fundraiser and parents love them," said Louise DeMeo, who
serves as the PTA co-president at Totten Intermediate School and the
corresponding secretary at PS 1, Tottenville. "You're talking about some
teachers getting around $2,000 gifts from the PTA, all for use for the kids."

The ban comes on the heels of a regulation that effectively prohibits bake
sales, another key fundraising tool for schools.

Previously, raffle tickets could not be sold to children, however, the new rule,
outlined in the proposed Chancellors Regulation A-660, says raffle tickets
cannot be sold at all.

The new regulation comes with a slew of other changes in the way PTAs would be
structured, potentially causing upheaval across the city.

PTAs will be required to give some of their extra earnings back to the parents
or the school, rather than using the funds for future events.

Also, no longer will Department of Education employees be allowed to serve as
PTA presidents, corresponding secretaries or treasurers. Instead, they will have
to resign mid-year, with elections held immediately to find replacements.

"Basically, that's taking away my rights as a parent," said Ms. DeMeo, who is a
public school teacher at a school her children do not attend. "I would have to
leave my position and I don't want to do that. The principal does not want me to
do that. He said this is the best PTA he has ever worked with."

"It seems like what they [the DOE] don't want is somebody who's knowledgeable
and passionate," she added. "They want to limit parent involvement and it's
going to create a very adversarial relationship between the teachers and the

Chinese auctions are the most lucrative fundraisers, generating as much as
$20,000 each time an event is held, parents said. At the auction, parents pay
for dinner and a set of raffle tickets when they walk in the door. Numbers are
called and the winner takes home a prize. Organizing an auction can take months,
between writing hundreds of letters to organizations to collect donations of
items, putting together baskets and renting a space.

But parents said it's worth the effort. PS 1 used $5,000 from a Chinese auction
to prevent their music program from being slashed due to budget cuts. Many
schools also use the funds for cultural activities and carnival days. The
principal at PS 50, Oakwood, was able to purchase air conditioners for some of
the classrooms.

"It was phenomenal," said Michele Faljean, the co-president of the Staten Island
Federation of PTAs. "It's so hot in there, the kids can get heat stroke. They
can't even function because they're sweating to death. All the PTA wants to do
is make the school better and help the kids do better."

According to the DOE, all concerns will be heard before the proposal is voted on
by the Panel for Educational Policy.

"We are still accepting public comment on the proposed regulation and we will
consider all parent and public comments before finalizing the proposed
regulation for a panel vote," said Margie Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the DOE.

1 comment:


I agree with you. The denial of a voice for those of us who choose to live and send our kids to school in this city is rediculous and smacks of employment discrimination. We need a class action suit on this. I learned 1st hand this year how much Klein fears PTA officers who are in the UFT. I was PTA President for 3 months at Townsend Harris & was prepared to organize the school against the proposed budget cuts.
Then the election was thrown out on rediculous and illegal grounds. When I sent an e-mail to the parents from my home computer 15 miles away from the school I was disqualified for campaigning on school grounds.
I am the Chapter Leader of Beach Channel HS - yes, one of 21 schools being closed.
If you know of other parents who are employed by the DOE - DC 37, UFT, custodians, whatever - cantact me at dspecoraro@netzero.net