PTA Funding Disparity and How to Impact Your School Board

Hi Friends!
I have had more responses to the small group meeting survey — thank you! It looks like weeknights are still the overwhelming preference, and Weds and Thurs evenings are also strong preferences. Between now and my next update I’ll schedule some new meeting dates. Hopefully you’ll be able to attend one!
Some quick reminders:
(1) The draft version of the school district’s Strategic Plan is available and they are seeking feedback.
(2) The Superintendent’s Budget is available for review and the School Board will be presenting their version tomorrow.
Related to the budget, and this applies to anyone in any school budgeting situation: equal cuts to all schools is not equity. Some schools need more of certain things than other schools, and giving all schools the same resources does not mean that they can serve their students at the same level of education. Please keep this in mind when reviewing any changes to school policies/budgets/etc.
In our county, there are nine Title I schools (meaning that 50% or more of the student population qualifies for free or reduced meals). Eight of those are located on the south side. PTA fundraising and spending is equally problematic. On the north side of our county, average PTA spending at elementary schools is around $130,000; on the south side it is around $54,000. This same trend holds true for middle and high schools in the county.
I hope you don’t have any doubt about the impact this disparity has on our children’s education​ and school environment. The question is how we address it. I’m hoping that by sharing these numbers with you that you can include this data in conversations you have with others about the realities schools face in our community. I will be adding more data to this research and can hopefully present it more widely and usefully, with the goal of educating and empowering our families to address it.
I heard back from a school board member about his suggestions for next steps in approaching the School Board about option schools (and integration efforts in general). He suggests that the best thing for us to do is to meet with School Board members one on one and see where they are on these issues. We don’t have to focus on options schools — I’d like to approach the others the way I did with him and see what they think about how we can address inequity among and within our schools and then go from there. If you want to help me craft some language, I’d love your suggestions. There are Open Office House every Monday evening when school is in session and the board members rotate through those days. It’s also possible to make an appointment, of course. Would anyone like to come to an appointment during the workday if I can get one?
He also had an interesting suggestion to build on what the county-wide grant fund does, but with material goods. He asked whether it would be possible for schools that have more abundant resources (wireless microphone headsets, for example) to loan those items to schools that can’t afford such things as a way of addressing an angle of inequity among our schools. I’d love your thoughts about what kinds of items might be shareable in this way and whether this might be possible.
I came across a report discussed in The Washington Post (“Tucked inside wealthy Northern Virginia are pockets of poverty, report says”) about the “Uneven Opportunity Landscape in Northern Virginia” by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation. The report has detailed sections about each of Northern Virginia’s counties.
Another report, from the Center for Social Innovation’s Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities (SPARC) “Phase One Study Findings,” (pdf) focuses on homelessness, and touches on many of the issues related to poverty and inequity in our country, particularly for people of color.
And for another article related to homelessness, the Raikes Foundation partnered with the Center for Social Innovation on a summit about the issues of homelessness and racial equity.
Stick with it!

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