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I am the PTSA Secretary for my daughters school in California. Recently I brought uo to the Board several issues I wanted to address as I felt we have a responsibility to be more aware of the economic times. I felt that $25 for a father-son event (add'l $10 for additional children) was a bit too ...much. I said that by lowering the cost of the event they would sell more tickets to make the same amount of money in the end. I also felt that we should not be cramming this event in at the beginning of the year when parents are hit with so much at the beginning of the year (school pics, fall fund raiser, and fall carnival shortly after). I don't like seeing children not able to attend because of finances. What really got me was when multiple Board Members responded by saying "If I can afford it so can most others". Has anyone else come across these issues? Any comments/suggestions? THANK YOU!

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Good for you for speaking up and trying to figure out how to make your events accessable to more families.

For most events, that sounds like too much money to me. What did a father & son pair "get" for their $25?

Were you able to bring the issue to a vote? Perhaps if you were to vote on what is a reasonable fee you would see some more support?

What about suggesting polling your families to see what they think is reasonable? Either a paper survey sent home, an online survey or a quick "exit poll" at an event? Ask for feedback in a school newsletter? Remind the board that these are the families that they have been elected to serve and it's important to get their feedback on how things are going and on if they feel that events are accessable to their family.

Something that we have been doing lately is a per person fee with a maximum payment per family. For example a meal might be $3 per person with a maximum charge of $10 per family.

You are right about the beginning of the school year usually being a tough time for people financially. Book fees, school supplies, school pictures, school clothes and then cramming fundraisers or high cost events on top of that means lower participation in your fundraising or activities as those other things usually need to come first. We have gotten our principal to work with us to help with that beginning of year mountain of bills a bit. Our school now sends home next year's supply list with the final report card and posts the supply list online all summer. This helps spread out the school supply costs a little bit. He also has tried to be conscious of when school pictures are scheduled vs. the fundraiser so those things don't overlap. If you have a "spend this year's money on this year's kids" policy like we have, then you do usually want to have a fall fundraiser instead of a spring one (otherwise this year's 5th graders are basically fundraising for next year's KG kids, for example).

What does your board look like? Is it a good reflection of your school's population, diversity wise, economically, etc? Maybe you need to reach out to another population so their voice will grow and be heard? Does the current board know what the free and reduced lunch percentages are in your school? What does your principal say reguarding the cost of events and accessability to all families?

Do you do any free events to balance out the ones that cost? Most of the time we only charge for the meal and the event that follows is advertised as being free.
Joe - Any update on how things are going?

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