Board Subcommittee Recommends Eliminating Cap on PTA Gifts
- The Goods
- Published on Thursday, 20 November 2014 15:00
- Joanne Wallenstein
PTA leaders came out in force to a discussion of the District's gift policy that now limits gifts from district PTA's to $10,000, a cap that is not placed on gifts from any other organizations.
A Policy Subcommittee of the Board of Education was formed to consider such questions and is lead by Board member Bill Natbony. On Tuesday evening he led the subcommittee through a consideration of the current gift policy (Policy 1800) and provision E which imposes the limits on PTA's.
The current gift policy governs the acceptance of monetary and material gifts to the district and requires among other provisions that:
Only the Board of Education or Superintendent can accept gifts valued at more than $1,000.
The Board can refuse gifts that do not "contribute toward the achievement of District goals "or would deplete District resources to maintain.
The policy bars acceptance of gifts to a "particular school" that would "lead to a disparity from school to school in the quality of education or programming.
The meeting opened with a plea from PT Council President Pam Feuhrer to omit the provision that limits PTA gifts to $10,000 and to permit the PT Council to formulate their own policy, saying, "We would prefer this policy disappear altogether, and that the PT Council, with PTA leadership and input from the principals, the Administration, and the Board of Education, be offered the opportunity to create a policy of our own."
She also emphasized that the PTA's follow procedures for gifts that involve all the key players. "We have current practices that, by definition, have become PTA Standing Rules. One current procedure, not written down but regularly followed at every school, guarantees principal and building involvement from day one. Gifts, if not suggested by the principal, are always first discussed with and must be allowed by the principal. Once approved by the principal and then by PTA membership, PTA gift requests are formally requested of the school principal, who then forwards the request letter to the superintendent. While not a component of an existing gift policy, this practice has become a PTA Standing Rule."
Natbony guided the group through a discussion of whether the Board needed to re-draft the gift policy or just address the limitation on PTA gifts. Committee members Chris Morin and Scott Silberfein felt that the current gift policy was working and that there would be little purpose in re-writing the whole provision. Superintendent Hagerman said, "the policy has stood up over time."
Suzanne Seiden said that she believed there should not be a separate policy for PTA gifts. Gose expressed concern about managing disparities between schools. Seiden feared that removal of the cap might create pressure to raise considerable funds, saying, "If we take away the cap there might be a race to raise more money instead of doing programming for the parents. It might create pressure."
Ultimately the group agreed that there was no need for a new gift policy, though the PTA limitation should be addressed.
After considerable discussion, Natbony proposed that the subcommittee make a recommendation to the full Board of Education for a "two year trial of removal of the cap – coupled with a request to the PT Council to develop a set of uniform gifting guidelines that would involved the principals and would include annual school-specific gift plans."
Member voted 3-1 in favor of this recommendation.
Next up, the Policy Subcommittee will consider Village hiring policies.