We’ve noticed an increase in queries around PTA funds – who do they belong to and who makes the decisions on how they are spent?
School funding cuts are big news at the minute and PTAs are increasingly being asked to fund items that many PTA members feel should be provided from the school budget.
Some believe that the aim of the PTA is to provide the ‘extras’ that a school cannot afford but this isn’t always the case. What may be considered an ‘extra’ at one school, may not at another.
As PTA funds belong to the PTA (and not to the school) it’s the PTA elected committee members decision on how they are spent. Of course, it makes sense for them to work closely with the school to ensure that they are funding something the school wants and needs. The school shouldn’t allocate any of the PTA funds, without having prior agreement from the committee to do so, similarly they shouldn’t buy anything expecting the PTA to agree to give them the money at a later date.
We recommend the school provides the committee with a wish list of items they want. The PTA committee can then decide which of these items they want to fund and then buy them and donate to the school. The committee should be clear that any purchases fit the objects of the association, to make sure they are spending the money correctly. The school has to appreciate it’s a committee decision and sometimes the committee may even want to refer back to the wider membership to see what the general opinion is, so a decision may not be made quickly. If the PTA decide they don’t want to fund something the school has requested, talk to the school to see if there is an area of compromise – perhaps a part donation or maybe there’s something else the committee could fund which would free up the school budget for them to buy it themselves.
If the PTA has adopted our constitution, the objects (charitable purpose) detailed are quite wide ranging: to advance the education of all the children within the school and to develop effective relationships between home and school. This means that items that are usually provided by school budget, could fall into these objects and therefore are a valid spend, if the committee are all in agreement.
Above all, communication is a two-way street, schools and parents should work together to get the best outcome. If the parents, or committee members have their own ideas, share these with the school. It may be a great idea that the school just hasn’t had yet.
Our information sheet on Managing PTA Funds has some further advice.
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Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.