Before I get into the details, let me preface this discussion by saying that we have great teachers at our school and are also proud to have 100% Teacher Membership again this school year. However, I have some concerns that we are spending too much of our PTA dollars specifically on the teachers.
At the beginning of the school year we host a Welcome Back Teacher breakfast. We give each teacher including Resource staff, Special Education staff and a few others a $100 check to use for supplies in their classroom. The checks alone tally $4,500. Each month we sponsor drinks/desserts for Teacher 1/2 day work day. Each month our Sunshine Committee gives a birthday gift to each teacher who has a birthday. Roughly $10-$15 per teacher is spent. We offer free tickets to teachers and their child for all of our PTA sponsored events such as Father Daughter dance, Mother Son night, Spring Carnival, etc. We provide a catered Teacher Appreciation Luncheon during Teacher Appreciation Week which cost around $600 this year. We give each grade level $300 just for showing up at Chick-Fil-A Spirit Night. We allocated $2,000 for Teacher/Staff Development. We sponsor a Room Parent program and provide a room parent volunteer for every home room teacher to assist with all events and activities throughout the year. The teachers also receive gifts from our parents through our Room Parent program for their birthdays, during holidays and for Teacher Appreciation Week.
We have only asked for teachers to come out to 2 events this year and volunteer for 1 hour each. Needless to say, we had to threaten cancellation of the event to get some of them to volunteer. Participation at PTA sponsored events by Teachers is very thin. What kind of message are we sending if we continue to spend so much money on the teachers if we can't get their participation in return. Is this a common issue among PTAs/PTSAs?
For comparison sake, we do follow the 3 to 1 rule with providing Programs vs. Fundraisers for our students and we spend nearly $20,000 a year on technology, books, supplies, etc. specifically for the school.
How do you recommend to the Principal that funding should be cut for the teachers and spent to allocate towards all of the students without becoming the "bad guy"?
I appreciate your input.
One more thing... Yes, I am aware that asking them to volunteer is always optional for them and that it takes away from their free time. However, we are all volunteers and spend countless hours working on PTA business and away from our families to raise money for the school, students and teachers. We have many volunteers this year who have pointed out the fact that we are doing this solely for all of our students and that we get nothing in return. Many of us also pull money from our own pockets to provide the extra little things that our budget doesn't allow. We spend gas money running to and from and I personally have had to pay for a babysitter on two occasions to volunteer at school. Granted that was my choice, but I have a hard time understanding why teachers feel that they do not need to participate in the Parent TEACHER Association. I'd love to have the point of view from a teacher.
Wow, that's a LOT of $. I am a teacher as well as an active PTA volunteer, and I'd appreciate that and definitely attend events. I think maybe you should try to get more input from the teachers in the school, either by a survey or maybe having a teacher rep as part of your executive commitee or executive board.
The principal should have NO SAY in how the PTA spends $, even if he/she is a member. However, I know in real life, this is hard. How do you monitor how the $100 is spent? Maybe you can offer grants for parent involvement instead? I would tell the principal and your executive committee that you are discouraged by the amount of teacher involvement in the school events. It does seem like they are more involved than most teachers I know. What kinds of events do you have them try to volunteer for? What type of volunteering? Most teachers just show up to events; I have very rarely seen any 'working' at a PTA event. I am not sure if threatening to cancel is the right way to go about it either....maybe the PTA is coming across as too demanding? I bet most PTAs don't have teachers really involved.
Your membership should be voting on and approving your budget. If the members say they want to spend less money on teachers, the principal( if he is a member)only gets one vote. Sometimes when a precedent has been set, teachers begin to take the PTA "love" for granted. Just because you have always done something in the past, does not mean you have to keep doing it. If there are not enough parent or teachers volunteers for an activity, you have to be willing to cancel the event to get your message out to everyone. A PTA cannot continue to function with the same handful of parents doing everything. You will get burned out and then there is not one left to run the PTA. I agree with Carrie, you have to get input from the Teachers. What day of the week or time of the year are you holding the events that you want them to participate in. There are certain times of year (testing) when teachers are swamped, and hanging around after school waiting for an activity to start is exhausting. Find out what the teachers are passionate about and build an activity around that. If they are passionate about something they are more likely to want to be involved. You might be able to find community sponsors for some of the teacher appreciation gifts or events, so that the money does not come from your budget.
Our school spends $300 on a Back to School Lunch, $600 on Teacher Appreciation Lunch, and $220 on Teacher of the Year Dinner. That is all that we spend on teachers each year.
I think the best bet is to talk to your Principal about your opportunity costs. For example, if we spend $2,000 this year on Teacher/Staff Development we have to forgo "X." You should approach all of your decisions that way and only spend money on things the PTA truly finds valuable and appropriate.