For Mamas on the PTO

Updated on June 27, 2013
C.T. asks from Red River, NM
24 answers

I sometimes volunteer for my son's PTO at his school and last year started being their secretary. It's a nice group and we raise money for the school by doing the book fair, a fun run, and a family carnival night. We use the money to pay for lunches for kids who don't have any, books for the library, playground equipment, or other such things the school might need but not have money for. The PTO is always helping with things...doing bake sales...putting on the teacher appreciation lunches, etc. My question for you is, I'd like to know what you think of this request. I'm not sure what to think of it. The new PTO president just got a call from the district superintendent. He is asking if the PTO will put on a fundraiser for the teachers who had their cars damaged in the school parking lot. At the end of May (the last week of school) there was a weird weather a huge dust devil...that came into the school yard, ripped up a bit of fence, and broke one section of the school roof. The branches and debris hit and damaged 8 teacher's cars (that filed reports). This was a not a tornado but a smaller quick wind event... and this was after school so most people were not around. The teachers have all used their insurance to get their cars fixed, but they probably had to pay their deductable. No one had any serious damage...just a broken window or dents. The superintendent wants to raise $250 per $2000 which is a lot for a PTO! I think this is a nice idea, but is this what a PTO should do? What if it's unfair...and some teachers had damage but did not report it? We have to decide and give him an answer and then this other board member who is a prominent politician in our small town wants to meet with us. It seems kind of strange. Why would he want to do this? Anyway - we have only a small group of people who volunteer with the PTO and it has been hard to get any new parents to help for the last couple years. Everyone is stretched thin and part of me worries that this is going to add a bit too much work. The other part of me thinks it's a nice thing to do. I'm just not sure this is a PTO job. Any opinions out there?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone. I am in agreement...that this is not what a PTO is for and it is very strange the superintendent (and a local politician) are asking us to do this. We (the PTO) have decided that no, this is not appropriate for us to do and we are going to tell them that today. Anyway, it was very helpful to read all your opinions bc it made us feel more strong with our convictions. I forwarded your responses on to our PTO president and we all agree that no, we are not going to hold a fundraiser for this.

Featured Answers



answers from Las Vegas on

I don't think raising money for car repairs is the PTO's job. In as much as I appreciate teachers, I just don't think time and money should be spent for such items.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Perhaps the district superintendent should take a collection asking the administrators and school principals to chip in to cover the deductibles.

This makes me think... if I could get 1 million people to give me a dollar, I would be a millionaire. Want to contribute??😉

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

No. Absolutely not.
The PTO does not pay for stuff like that. The PTO pays for stuff for the students.

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answers from Cleveland on

I am pro teacher all the way but this does not sit well with me.

I would replace their collections of childrens books had a freak flood happened because it benefits the children,

and i think a teacher appreciaton luncheon once a year or even once a month is an awesome nice thing to do,

BUT the cars uhhhhh .... no.

I wish i had a better reason for you but i just feel this is a personal issue and not a School issue, had their cars been damaged in the grocery store parking lot you wouldn't be asked tohelp i hope.

What might be acceptable or a compromise would be to replace the fence, but even that i feel is the schools responsibility,

i feel the PTO is more for the benefit of the kids.

as for the politcian could he be wanting to meet with you on an unreated issue because if not I would be very uncomfortable.

icky request.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

This is crazy!!!! Completely inappropriate use of funds! The people (parents, grandparents, community members) who support your PTO expect you to use those funds to further the goals and mission of your organization----which should have everything to do with promoting the educational experience of your students and helping the teachers to better do their jobs (not pay for personal expenses, as unfortunate as the circumstances might be, as in this case).

I am just finishing my second year as PTA treasurer, and I realize that we (PTAs) may have some restrictions that PTOs do not. However, I urge you to go to to learn more about running a PTO and how your board should be spending those hard-earned fundraiser dollars.

I assume you are a non-profit organization. (If you are not recognized by the IRS as a non-profit, that's a whole other area of trouble to address).

As a non-profit organization, there are specific guidelines outlined by law that you must follow. You have to be very, very clear about what constitutes appropriate vs. inappropriate use of funds, and you must be very careful to document the use of funds. You could lose your non-profit and your tax-exempt status, not to mention getting your board in big trouble for misuse of funds.

Please educate yourselves about the appropriate use of your fundraising dollars, become very familiar with IRS regulations for non-profits, and learn how to keep proper documentation for your annual audits. Yes, you need to be doing audits.

Your PTO president and treasurer should be on top of this and know these regulations and rules. They also need to have the backbone to stand up to this outrageous request by the superintendent. If they are afraid to say no directly, they can fall back on the guidelines governing the use of funds.

Just because something is a "nice" thing to do doesn't make it the right thing to do. As a parent, I would be very unhappy if those fundraising dollars I gave went to covering expenses that should be handled by insurance and/or individuals instead of going toward things that help the students, school, and teachers (not their personal concerns, but for classroom and instructional things). While you can do some "nice" things to show appreciation for ALL teachers and staff, like a lunch, those things must be relatively small in comparison to your entire budget and for ALL teachers/staff, not just a select few.

Your concern is valid: this is NOT a PTO function. It's an unfortunate thing that happened to some of the teachers who now have to pay their deductible. That's part of life, not a PTO function.

Finally, I'd have some concerns about the "prominent" politician who is also a board member. Is this person attempting to exert influence where he/she should not be? Kind of sounds like a conflict of interest, and if that is the case, it should be called for what it is and addressed directly.

I know it can get tricky in small towns, but when you are in a position of trust, like on the board of a PTO, you've got to do the right thing and be able to say "No" when people in positions of power (superintendent) try to strong-arm you into doing something that is wrong.

Knowledge is power. Educate yourselves and know what you can and cannot do with those funds.

Best wishes,

J. F.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My opinion is that the function of our PTO is to provide materials, experiences and enrichment for the STUDENTS, not the teachers--sorry.
The insurance of the car owners, or insurance if the school can/did pay for that act of nature. Inappropriate.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I'm all for supporting teachers...but **THIS**??? nope. it had nothing to do with school and it had nothing to do with the parents.

If the Principal wants to fork over the money out of HIS paycheck? I'm sure $2K will be NOTHING for him.

I would NOT do this. I would NOT participate in this. I would NOT encourage it. THIS IS NOTHING TO DO WITH SCHOOL.

Tell him you are sorry but that is NOT a function of the Parent Teacher Organization.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I think it's weird too, but I don't know if I can put my finger on why.

If the school district really wanted to do the right thing THEY would reimburse the teachers for their deductibles out of the district's budget. But the district probably doesn't want to set that precedent.

I would think PTO funds would be utilized for activities directly connected to the teaching of children, including appreciation events at the end of the year.

Let us know what happens!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

That is not a PTO job/ obligation. The PTO is for students and the events you already mentioned to fund library, etc.

Anyone who had damage to a car can file a claim on his/her personal car insurance. That is NOT the job of a PTO.

Vote NO

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I am not involved with the PTO, but my kids do go to school. I have no trouble contributing to things that improve the school or help the students. But for personal vehicles, that were insured, and damaged by a natural event that don't have an impact on my children's learning environment? Not so much.

It is kind of a nice thought...I mean there all all kinds of fundraisers for people who experience natural disasters. They aren't organized by the PTO though.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would be uncomfortable raising money for the teachers cars to be repaired. There probably were other cars that were damaged too, but maybe not reported. This was an unusual event and I am sorry that there cars were damaged. Did the principal say that some teachers had asked for help with the reimbursement? In the past, our PTA did do a fundraiser to donate money for medical expenses for a teacher's child who needed a transplant. It was above and beyond what insurance would cover.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

In my opinion SOOOO not a PTO issue and SOOOOO not even the school's budget's issue - this is a district problem. I would explain to the Super how much you needed for the past 5 years and how much you actually raised. Then show him that the 2K is MUCH better put to use doing something else like having the playground equipment reinforced in the event this happens again, but over the playground.

I would also check the By Laws of your school's PTO to see if this complies.

OH! And as a contributing parent I would be PISSED to find out that this is what my money is spent on.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I am the PTO President of my daughter's school and think this is a weird request. If it were our Principal, I would think that the PTO would agree with me that since most teachers did put in claims and had it covered, we would like to use the money towards something that the entire school could benefit from as every penny is likely spoken for each year. Explain to him that by raising 2K for the teachers, you are essentially removing money you could be for providing them supplies, an evening for the kids, etc. I would thank him for his great idea and maybe offer something instead - like a luncheon for all the teachers at the beginning of the year (if you don't already do this) or a car wash where you will clean their cars for free? But overall - I think this is a weird request.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

No, that is not what the PTO is for.

Now, if a group of parents on their own wanted to fund raise for this AND the district superintendent would approve it.. That is up to the group of parents.

In the "PTA", there are strict rules about fundraising and this does not fall into any of our fundraising criteria. It has to benefit the students and their education..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

I agree with others that no I don't think your PTO should do it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hmmmm....isn't this why we have comprehensive (OKthat's what it's called in MA) on auto insurance?And PTO/PTA monies go toward school stuff?like our school uses PTO $$ for buses for field trips, halloween parties, teacher appreciation lunch and such....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I don't like it. Sure, it sounds nice in theory...

That isn't what a PTO is supposed to be about. The cars should be covered by insurance. Whatever they have set up (regarding deductibles and comprehensive coverage or just collision... who knows?) with their insurance is what risk they as individuals decided to take. That is what insurance is: a safety net against risk. Some is required, the rest is what you want/can pay to insure against. After that, it would be on the school, I would imagine. It happened on school property. Was anything improperly secured?

Seems like there would be some sort of property insurance that might cover some of the damage, but with it being a government entity, who knows.

But, I would be very leery of drawing on the limited resources you have access to for something that is so specific to only certain teachers and doesn't in any way benefit the student body.
If it was to do some sort of work (or pay for it) at the school that would make it safer/more secure for future weather events, that would make it safer for everyone on the property, that would be a different thing. This is making individual teachers whole from something that isn't related to the student body.

I would say "no." And come up with what you DO plan to spend your fundraisers on, quickly. Something that benefits the teachers or the student body in some way related to educating the students.

Maybe you could offer to have a benefits analyst come do a presentation for the teachers, outlining what sort of risks they need to protect against? You could make it comprehensive (including not just auto insurance, but also life insurance, retirement planning strategies, mortgages/refinancing, etc)....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

In Texas (it is a PTA)...however, any use of money must be voted on at a general election.

So, I am not use that your board can just decide to give them the money. Wouldn't you have to put it in your budget and then get a vote on it before you could do it?

In that case you can bring it up at your next general meeting and let the parent and teachers vote on it to decide.

Personally, I would vote no.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The PTO should be raising money for the school or for the kids. Teachers do have a hard job, and the PTO benefits them by buying technology, or supporting the kids and curriculum. Car damage has absolutely nothing to do with their job or the school.

Perhaps the PTO could ask certain car repair places if they would give the teachers a discount or something like that.

It's probably awkward to tell him no, but perhaps a letter could come from the entire PTO.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

No, the PTO should not fund this. The damage was a weather thing, not a school thing. The same damage could have easily happened if the teachers had been parked outside of Wal-Mart rather than the school. There was no negligence here by the school. Where would you draw the line at this? Were there parent volunteers at the school during the time of the weather damage? Should their car repairs be included in this? What about janitors? What about vendors that stopped by with deliveries?

This should be covered under insurance...period. If nothing else, the school should check to see if any damage would be covered under the school's property insurance.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I'm on the PTO board, and I think that is a weird request. We would decline.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

PTO money is not for this kind of thing at all and I can't believe he'd even ask.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Sounds fishy. There's no way you can determine anyone's car damage happened during the storm or else everyone will be claiming their car needs repair.

If you do it, there's plenty of quick fundraisers - sell tee shirts for $20, ask for donations - $1 a person, or $1 a day for a week - ask local restaurants to donate a percentage of 1 night's receipts to the school and have all the school families eat there that night etc etc

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I agree that it is a strange request and not really the responsibility of the PTO. However, I'm not totally against it. Just out of curiosity, how many students attend your school? My son's school has 670 students, so to raise $2000 is only asking approximately $3 per kid. Even families with three children at the school would only be paying about $10. It seems like a pretty easy amount of money if people believed that it was a worthy cause.

It's also kind of strange timing since the school year just ended and it's harder to contact people or get in touch. Doing a fundraiser like this at the beginning of the school year might set a wrong tone to the start of the year.

Here's are a couple of ideas if you decide to move forward: Maybe instead of setting up a formal fundraising event, you simply send a flier home to all of the families saying that you're taking up a collection for the teachers. Leave a box in the front office that they can drop money in with a suggested donation of $3 per student. They can do what they want and no one will know who does or doesn't contribute so there won't be any pressure.

Another idea is to do a restaurant night. Ask a local restaurant to sponsor the cause; most will donate 10-15% of the proceeds back to organization. Not proceeds from the entire night, just from those who specifically mention the fundraiser. You probably won't get the full $2000, but you'd be able to help some. Families are sometimes more likely to do a restaurant night because it's social and families have to eat anyway, so it's worth a shot.

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