Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot topic: How much does your PTA raise?

This from a reader:
I'm a parent at a school that might be considered an up-an-comer. Our PTA will raise about $60k this year. This is an improvement for us, but I know that is chump-change compared to other schools. How much do trophy-school PTAs raise, and what are your most successful fundraisers?

76 comments:

  1. Our small school of 260 students
    (60% of students receive free or reduced lunch) raises $65K with a direct appeal, silent auction, raffle, and running race.

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  2. I think that more than raw dollar numbers, these need to be given with number of students and number of families per school. It would also be interesting to know how much of the money came from grants and other external sources versus how much parents (and grandparents, etc.) give.

    When touring, I noted that Grattan claimed to raise $120,000 and with a student body of 280 that's about $430/student.
    Lilienthal claims to raise about $170,000, but it's a K-8 with 660 students, so it's about $260/student.

    I think that's one of the (many) advantages of the SFUSD K8s. With so many more students, given a little per student, the totals are enough to really hire a teacher (or whatever).

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  3. mckinley raised $200,000. I don't know the number of students there, sorry, but i think that was v impressive.

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  4. According to the SFUSD school profile, McKinley had 286 students at the beginning of the 2008 school year. (The info is a little out of date.) I bet that's a bit bigger this year as the 5th grade was really small then. But for $200K, that's still $700 per student. I wonder if they get external grants or if that's all family donations.

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  5. McKinley's cash donations from this Fall's direct appeal to families was around $45K. The rest of the money comes from the various fund raising activities throughout the year, the largest of which, DogFest, is coming up April 17th. Last year in it's second year in existence that raised around $30K. There is also some money that comes from grant writing. Since McKinley is no longer a Star status school for the past two years there has been no extra funding from the district. It is all from the hardworking and very involved school community.

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  6. The trophy PTAs aren't going to fess up here because they are getting nervous about the District trying to equalize things, but I've been told that many of them are clearing $250,000 a year. And this has already led to inequities. For example, all fourth and fifth grade classes in the District are at 33 kids except for Miraloma, which has been graced with a grant that lets it keep class size at 25. This is going to continue next year. You are going to see some schools in the district with 30 kids in a class in 1st through 3rd grade, while others will be able to keep class sizes at much lower levels. Our PTA has struggled to raise $50,000 and we are a large elementary with over 400 kids. There is simply no way we can protect our kids against the budget cuts -- unless we are successful at getting into a trophy school. We have transfer applications in place. Our hidden gem is a wonderful place, but a school filled with low-income parents but smart kids who do well on STAR tests is the wrong place to be in right now.

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  7. 8:50, can you please name your school? At least your part of town? Your points are somewhat blind and therefore less meaningful otherwise. Thanks!

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  8. Yes, that is a problem with anonymity. You are anonymous.

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  9. 8:50 -- I agree there are, and likely will continue to be, inequities among schools. But your broad statement about class size of 33 in 4th and 5th grade for all schools except Miraloma, in not accurate. Our medium size school currently has 25 students in the upper grades -- funded through PTA money. I don't know if there are others.

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  10. For those schools that raise $50K to over $100K, can you share how much is taken in through direct appeal?

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  11. The Chinese Immersion School at De Avila raised about 95K with only kindergarten and first grades. I think its just over $1000/student. I do believe that a good amount was raised via grants and auctions.

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  12. Not surprised about DaAvila Chinese Immersion--the principal is great and the parents hit the ground running.

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  13. Alvarado raises around 200k, half from direct appeal, half from the auction.

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  14. Alamo raised nearly $400,000 between the foundation and the PTA.

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  15. Our school raises money from a gala, but the biggest fundraiser is a direct appeal to contribute to the fund, and a firm expectation from the principal downwards that everyone gives at least a set minimum.

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  16. 12:31 - What is the set minimum? Do you have a lot of reduced/free lunch families?

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  17. I strongly disagree with any efforts to reduce SFUSD funding for schools that are successful at fundraising. Can't think of a stronger disincentive to fundraising.

    HOWEVER, what about requiring PTAs to set aside 5 percent of their take to go into an all-SFUSD fund to be distributed to schools with less resources? You could even make it voluntary and have the representatives from the participating PTAs administer a simple grant program.

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  18. The grant that Miraloma has, allowing it to keep the smaller class sizes is Title I funds.. Remember it used to be a horrible school? Hillcrest, Muir, Rosa Parks and Revere have the same 'grant'

    I asked about this on a tour (of Miraloma) and was told its a 5 year program, they are in the 3rd year.. though would it be surprising if the funding was cut?

    So Miraloma had a special grant (for those of you looking for the 'next' Miraloma) as well as activated parents. The other schools have been slower to capitalize on this program.

    Now will Sunnyside, Glen Park or JSerra be the 'next' Miralmoa? Well none of those will have as much funding. Good Luck to the parents.

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  19. Miraloma lost its Title I funds years ago. The grant it has that allows class size reduction is QEIA, which is from the state. I think 18 schools in the district have QEIA.

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  20. At a Sunnyside tour they told me the PTA raised $50K.

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  21. The list of 14 SFUSD schools receiving QEIA grants:

    International Studies Academy
    Paul Revere Elementary School
    James Lick Middle School
    Mission High School
    Dr. Charles R. Drew Preparatory
    Everett Middle School
    John Muir Elementary School
    Horace Mann Middle School
    Willie L. Brown 4-8 School
    Rosa Parks Elementary
    Hillcrest Elementary School
    Sanchez Elementary School
    Miraloma Elementary School
    Malcolm X Elementary School

    That Miraloma will continue to receive these funds through the 2013-14 school year in spite of a huge shift in demographics, test scores, and increase in parent fundraising speaks to the design of the grants. Eligibility for the grants was based on a 2005 API of 1 or 2.

    Also interesting is that the teachers at each school were required to have more than the district average of 11 years of experience. That is no longer true for Sanchez, Revere, Drew, or Miraloma, not sure about the others.

    Here the district's press release:
    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/news/pdf/5%203%2007%20QEIA%20notice.pdf

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  22. Have there been real talks at the district level about "equalizing" things between the schools that raise a lot and those that don't? Or is it just a fear? Is there a precedent for that sort of thing?

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  23. The whole "equity of fundraising" thing is ridiculous. Why stop there? Why doesn't SF share it's funds with Salinas? After all, even the poorest SF schools do better than some of those schools. How about we all share our school funds with Mississippi, or Port Au Prince? Life is not fair.

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  24. Mississippi has more state money per student than CA these days--they should share with us!

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  25. "What is the set minimum?"

    $350. About 50-60% contribute at or above that level

    "Do you have a lot of reduced/free lunch families?"

    About 20-30%.

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  26. $350 is a LOT of money for the families at our school, many of whom are barely scraping by.

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  27. Actually, I think the whole "privatize the fundraising" thing is grotesque. First, it orients parents toward improving their child's school rather than to improving the system a a whole. Second, if the city is punishing private fundraising by pulling the public funds from successful fundraisers, what that really means is that they want and expect private money to fund public school. Which it shouldn't-- it is PUBLIC school system, just like Medicare is a PUBLIC program.

    Do you see old people having to throw bake sales to get their pacemakers (and yes, I know prescription drugs are a different matter)? No. You hit 62 or whatever it is, for a small premium you can get Medicare to the tune of millions, no matter what neighborhood you live in or how much private money or volunteer time your fellow patients might be able to donate to the hospital. I'll contribute to my PTA for lack of a better option, but I'd much rather pay more taxes so that all the schools have more resources.

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  28. You don't get Medicare until you are 65. You can start collecting social security checks at 62.

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  29. Seniors who have private medicare supplement coverage get more than people who medicare alone--you have more money, you can get more stuff.

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  30. OK, 65. I said "whatever it is," and my point stands. Yes, you can get *more* stuff with a supplement, but Medicare alone provides very expensive support. I know this because I am dealing with a terminally ill, not particularly wealthy family member on it, to the tune of millions. Imagine, just for a minute, the same level of support not for one individual, but for children's education. I'm not saying take it away from health care for seniors (my preference would be the defense budget), but my point is that we still have broad public support for ill senior citizens, while we're just supposed to go along with the privatization of public schools.

    OK, enough from me on this. I just find the imperative to raise private funds for public schools infuriating, and a motor of inequality. Raise my taxes, please!

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  31. Its a shame that we/they can't form a SFUSD foundation (like at Alamo), I suppose we have Music In Schools fundraisers..

    but this would be a general fundraiser for public schools that schools with low earning PTAs could get funds to equalize the schools.

    Sorry, don't buy that the parents at Miraloma and Rooftop work harder than the ones at Sunnyside.

    (When I toured Sunnyside in 2008, I was told they raised 5K in 2007. Glad to hear they are up to 50K, but really.. NO ONE was at their spring carnival.)

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  32. Palo Alto school district has a fundraising foundation called Partners in Education (PiE) that equitably distributes funds across all schools in the district to support staffing (i.e. classroom aides, science and art teachers). They ask every family to donate $650 per year, and this year they raised $2.9 million. It works well in Palo Alto where they have only 8% free/reduced lunch.
    In SF, the district has 54% free/reduced lunch, so there would be far fewer families able to donate. Also, schools like Clarendon (11% free lunch) could feel like they're shouldering too much of the burden for schools like Malcolm X ( 94% free lunch) who would get an equal share of the proceeds while providing few donations.

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  33. 8:11 -- totally agree with you. This notion that somehow the PTAs of the schools with lower income families are not working hard enough is a bunch of BS. Our low-income school absolutely sweats it to get up to $50,000. When I go to my school's spring auction and compare the items for sale to the items at one of the schools that are pulling down $200,000, I get totally depressed. We have about the same number of items, but there's are so much more opulent. Then they bring out great entertainment -- one school had a magician who has been on television! That kind of entertainment costs money. To my mind, these schools MUST depend on a core of 25+ affluent families that are giving $3000 or more each. There's no other way they are doing it. And when I see that schools like Alvarado can charge $25 per person attendance to their auctions, I'm just flumoxed. If we charged to attend, NO ONE WOULD COME. We've got single parent families that have lost their sole means of income. We've got families where both parents are working TWO jobs. It really feels sometimes like we are trying to get water from a rock. I understand the argument of some of the commenters here that, if schools with large PTA funds faced greater cuts, it would kill the incentive for them to raise money. But there must be some way to spread the wealth here.

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  34. If we want to talk about spreading the wealth, how about having a private school tax on all those parents who send their kids to private schools? The full tuition for two kids is enough to cover your $50K fundraising. It is obviously unfair that they can spend so much and get so much.

    Actually, let's forbid PTA fundraising so no public schools can get ahead of others.

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  35. here's a thought I had a while back:

    Maybe PTA's from different schools should partner with one another - especially those with less affluent student populations - to form joint grant-finding & grant-writing teams. These inter-school teams work together to go big game hunting, ie. $1 million+ grants. Grants that maybe are difficult to find, or perhaps too onerous to tackle by an individual school's grant-writing committee - if the school even has one at all.

    If they pooled funds they could hire a professional to teach them how to set up a system to do grant-writing regularly as a team and for their individual schools.

    Don't know nuthin about grant-writing though, so maybe this idea here is no good.

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  36. 2:18 pm again -- OK, here are details from the last Alvarado auction, just in case there's anyone out there who thinks PTAs at majority low SES schools can replicate what Alvarado is doing without importing high SES parents into their schools at a significant clip. Alvarado recently had their auction at an off-school site, the Janet Pomeroy Center near Lake Merced. Admission was $25, if bought in advance; $30 if bought at the door. Food was catered by Whole Foods (no potluck here and parents cooking furiously) and booze flowed freely. This last point seemed crucial to their success: the whole point appeared to be to get the parents drunk enough to start bidding wildly on items. And the bidding was mind-blowing. One item -- a metal sculpture made by one class -- fetched $3700. Not one "spend the afternoon with Teacher X playing blah, blah" went for less than $300. All in all, I am told that this ONE EVENT raised $100,000! Lessons learned: What is apparent is that the key to success at these auctions is not endless toiling of hardworking parents, but two key ingredients: (1) well-connected wealthy parents who can get retailers like Whole Foods to funnel goods to them and (2) a core of 25+ families that have the ability to give $3000+ a year. Both are impossible with a significant number of high SES families. Whole Foods is not going to donate food to a school where the majority of parents are getting food stamps. And no low SES family can bid at this kind of level.

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  37. What does SES stand for?

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  38. Socio-econonic status?

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  39. Well Whole Foods should be ashamed of themselves if they really select only schools w/higher income parents to donate to. But I suspect it has more to do with thE Alvarado parents shopping at whole foods, being educated and confident enough and have time enough to ask Whole Foods for the donation. Low SES parents are busy working and learning English and shopping at Foods Co. to know how to lobby Whole Foods for donations.

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  40. 7:33, I hope you are wrong that there was nothing for low-SES families at Alvarado. Even our private preschool, which has a very wealthy parent base, manages to come up with fixed-price items. For $20 or $25 flat, you can buy a ticket for raffled items or a "count me in" space at an activity with a teacher or another family. The door price is "suggested," not mandatory, small donations of homemade goods are eagerly received and bought, and every effort is made to ensure that the less affluent families can feel a part of things. Yes, there are parents bidding $5K for kids' crafts and vacation getaways. But there are also people like us, who can't make 3-digit bids and can only donate something small, but still care about the school. I can't imagine a way to alienate the low-SES (or hell, the middle-SES) part of a school than to shut them out of fundraisers. Please tell me this isn't the story at Alvarado.

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  41. Liquor definitely fuels the fund-raising fire. Our school rakes in money with wine sales at off-site events. It also stimulates bidding at auctions. Still, you do need to attract a crowd that has enough disposable income to make the event a success, and I'm sure for some schools, that would be a hard crowd to gather.

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  42. There were plenty of smaller items at Alvarado auction, but in particular the school runs a "boutique" - cash and carry items - during the week before the auction which is a great way for families to participate who don't want to go to the actual auction.

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  43. I am certain that there is a huge self-selection process about who goes to the auctions. At our school's auction, where some items went for $5K+ at the live auction, only about a quarter of the families from our kid's class came. For some of the other families it might well have been an uncomfortable experience if they had gone, even if there were a large amount of more moderately prices items. Some probably skipped out before the live auction also. Still, the fact that some of us can afford to bid high does make a difference in the daily life of their children. I spend time in the classroom, and feel that the school does all it can to integrate everyone and treat everyone equally and respectfully. My child is young still, so I do not know how the SES differences play out over time between the kids, but so far they are all happily friends, and pretty oblivious to the vast span of backgrounds.


    I truly wish that the schools were solidly funded across the board, and I do find the equity issues troubling, but given the current situation, I don't know what to do other than give as much as I can to our school, and vote for whatever funding proposals comes up for schools overall. Unfortunately I think that a previous poster is right, that you need a certain number of people who are just happy not to be paying $25 a year for private school, and are willing to still give a decent chunk of that to their public school to get the higher fund raising numbers (which our school has). Fair it isn't, and it hurts the low SES kids in poorer schools the most.

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  44. that was supposed to be $25K a year for private school

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  45. 7:33 again -- my points about the Alvarado fundraiser were not to single out Alvarado, but to point to the huge disadvantages that schools with extremely large low SES populations face. Three or four middle class families are just going to burn out trying to turn around a school like that. Two things I think we can do to rectify this situation: (1) the well-funded public schools are going to have to stop feeding at the grant trough and instead work to help schools with low SES populations apply for those grants, as grants are the one way they can try to get extra funds; and (2) the District and the low SES schools are going to have to think long and hard about creative approaches to fundraising -- and, to my mind, one of the most obvious is to rename the school for someone famous so that that famous person's family or supporters of that famous person contribute to it. This doesn't have to be done in a crass way or in a way that steps on people's toes, but there are definitely opportunities there.

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  46. I'm a longtime Alvarado parent and can remember when the FR budget was considerably less than $50,000. I think we were excited when it went over $40,000 for the first time, so that's a 500% increase. Yes, there has been inflation, and then the loss of Title I money about six years ago, and budget cuts from the district, but there is no doubt the school community has benefited from the increase in funding and the influx of professionally connected Noe families who can run treasure hunts and solicit high-end gifts for the silent auction. It's as much about that as it is the families who can afford (in lieu of tuition) to purchase five-figure items at the auction.

    I guess I want to make two somewhat contradictory points about all this.

    One is that Alvarado is still worthy, as are all our public schools, of getting funds. Although more wealthy overall than before, we remain a school with almost half (46%) Latino kids, 43% free lunch--less than the district average but not by that much, certainly not Clarendon's 11% or a private school's negligible # of poor kids--and 38% English language learners. Clarendon has 70% white & Asian kids. Private schools generally have an even higher percentage! Alvarado has all of 33% white and Asian kids. By all measures we are a *mixed* school in terms of SES, which is in many ways a good thing. The low SES kids benefit from the resources, the longevity of the teachers. The high SES kids are exposed to diversity and are also not lost in an overwhelmed school (white kids score 947 API fwiw). But the low SES kids really, really do need the extra resources, including literacy support. Their needs--and they are a significant percentage of the school--are considerable. So I would never frame this as "Alvarado doesn't need the money."

    On the other hand, it is shameful that we have created a system that relies on parent fundraising for "extra" supports such as literacy programs. It is truly unfair that some schools have $200,000 PTA budgets and others do not. More than anything I want to work to change the system of public funding. But I also want to say that I really, really like the idea of pairing up a school like Alvarado with a school whose base contains less wealth and that is also less experienced & networked in terms of fundraising. I personally would also support a "tax" on PTA fundraising above a certain amount that could go into a general pot. It would have to be set at a sweet spot that didn't utterly discourage fundraising, but I think it would be fair. Full disclosure, I say that as a parent at a middle school that is more where Alvarado used to be than where it is now!

    I would finally like to clarify that there are opportunities for the lower SES families to participate in fundraising and other activities at Alvarado. The ELAC (English learner) group often provides a handcrafted item that sells well in the live auction. Most of all our families participate in the raffle and also the rummage sale. The Latino carnival has wide participation. I do think there are equity issues but it is not a total divide. Efforts are made. It is far, far cry from a private school feeling of remove! (sorry--I'm not a private school hater, but I think that is *the* big disadvantage at private, how isolated it is from diversity, especially in terms of SES.) I mean, it's not easy being a mixed school, but you have to try. Better to try than not.

    Okay, there's a lot of years worth of thoughts for ya!

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  47. 11:50 -- I appreciate your willingness to partner up with low SES schools for fundraising, but we really don't need more fundraising tips. The problem that my school is now facing is that, at the end of the day, we are still a school with four or five middle class families and we are about to be hit by a tsunami of cuts. So . . . we sweat, sweat, sweat and do a potluck and an auction that raises -- $3000 dollars. Alvarado's auction raised 30 times more. We do a walkathon and we do a bunch of other events. And, at the end of the year, we are lucky if we can make $50,000. (We did that last year, but honestly I'm thinking we are going to end up at $40,000.) And what has happened is that the four or five families doing all this (including me) have become burnt out. The economy has taken a toll on some of us (most of the families have at least one parent out of work) and it has totally whacked the low SES families. And the problem we are seeing now in the immediate future -- next year -- is that our (maybe) $50,000 is going to get us a PE part-time instructor, supplies that the District is otherwise cutting, and (maybe) one part-time literacy tutor. It is not going to help us prevent class size increases, it is not going to let us have the part-time computer instructor we had, and it is not going to let us do any field trips. So we are on a tread mill and the tread mill keeps speeding up and at the end of the day we are still worse off than before. So what we really need is more than fundraising tips, we need some real help now.

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  48. You won't be seeing a computer teacher at Alvarado next year, either.

    The cuts are hitting EVERYONE. In some ways, it is better to be a Title 1 school right now and be eligible for additional monies.

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  49. Here is another example of how a certain person tries at all costs to berate me. I did not post a comment asking what SES stands for. She is just trying to make me look uninformed by posting as don. Everyone got sick and tired of her constant attacks so now she using a different tact. Sad that she can't provide something more positive.

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  50. " OK, here are details from the last Alvarado auction, just in case there's anyone out there who thinks PTAs at majority low SES schools can replicate what Alvarado is doing without importing high SES parents into their schools at a significant clip."

    Alvarado is 43% free/reduced lunch.

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  51. Yes, Alvarado is actually a mixed school in terms of SES status. 43% free/reduced lunch is not a wealthy population overall, although they are benefiting from a significant number of high-SES Noe families. Alvarado has maintained the balance primarily through the SI program, which holds spaces for primary Spanish speakers, which has created a school that feels welcoming to Latino families overall, even in the GE program. There's a critical mass. And the rest of the spots are filled in mainly from Noe and other central, whiter, higher-SES neighborhoods.

    This may be close to the ideal balance. If across the district as whole, which has just over half free/reduced lunch families, the schools were as balanced--say, 43-57% free/reduced lunch kids/school, with the rest middle class and above--then it would provide the situation for schools not to be overwhelmed and have access to at least moderate fundraising. It still takes motivated parents, etc., but it would go a long, long way. If the half of our white/high-SES families that went private were choose public, the balance could be even more advantageous. Schools would really benefit from the influx.

    Unfortunately, most of our schools are not as balanced as Alvarado. Clarendon has only 11% free/reduced lunch, and Carver, Muir, Cobb, et al have many more.

    It will be interesting to see what the new SAS does to the balance at various schools. SI schools like Alvarado presumably will continue to maintain some balance, and schools like Alvarado, Serra, Flynn, etc that border low and high SES neighborhoods will be able to draw a good mix. That is less true for the Bayview, or for schools on the north/west sides of town.

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  52. 3:50, what school? I keep wishing there were a small-scale "donors choose" for SFUSD. I realize that donors cannot will a computer instructor into being. But hell, art supplies? Field trips? Those of us without kids, or with kids not yet in SFUSD, or whose kids go private, or whose kids go to a better-funded public, might well be inspired to help fund specific things or supply things through a local "donors choose" system. Or even if this blog had a "wishlist" thread.

    Meanwhile, just so you know, UC tuition ("fees") may be $20k before room and board by 2015 or so. So don't count on public higher education in this state either. What we've done with that damned 2/3 majority legislature is a travesty.

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  53. Wow, not only is it OK that a school like Alvarado is clearing $250,000 a year in fundraising and keeping that money all for itself, but it also deserves grants too and, you know what, we should ALL be glad because the school is so balanced. I've got news for the Alvarado PTA. There were families at your little soiree who were appalled, and I mean appalled, at the ostentatious display of wealth at your auction. So you all keep taking money away from the low SES schools. Just one warning -- if you stay in public school, your kids will eventually meet up with the deprived kids from my kids' penniless low SES elementary, if not at middle, then at high or perhaps in a dark alley. Good luck, guys!

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  54. Thank you for your threatening remarks. You are one reason why people leave public education.

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  55. 8:11 - The parents at Alvarado and the staff and teachers have all done an amazing job building up a school and making it a real model. You can bet that many parents are also giving money elsewhere - and I agree, I would love to see a link where people who have discretionary income could help the schools that need it most (tomorrow's Alverado's). We're all in this together and some get luckier than others on the lottery (and heck, in life) but we all want to build up the SF school system.

    While I can't exactly imagine what it's like to be one of the 3-4 families who are bolstering low SES schools up, I can see it must be so hard to do it continuously and I hope there are some ways for the rest of us to help. The remark about the dark alley comes, I'm sure, from feeling out of control and helpless. Maybe we could all remember that Kate started this blog for us to help each other and we're lucky she keeps it going. Please try to keep this spirit in mind.

    In the meantime, I just called Marshall, as a school in our neighborhood that is low income (I know there are others). I got the address to donate, I just sent a check, and I was invited to a party on the 24th that sounds amazing - kind of a little celebration/ talent show, where I am sure they will be trying to raise more and it will be great for our family to go to this (it's 12-5 at the school).

    I would say if there were a central way to raise money for schools that don't raise as much as others this could be successful. I could help with it but I'm not web-savvy and I think having an electronic element would be great. The easier to make it for people the better. If anyone is interested in helping please let me know. I'll post a place for us to meet but would love to see on this thread if anyone has time first.

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  56. First to 8:49 AM - that's a wonderful, genuine offer. It might be buried in this March thread, now that April topics are being posted, so you might want to ask Kate to start a “Hot Topic” for you in April.

    To all the others, why all the animosity towards Alvarado? Hasn’t anyone on this thread been to any other public school auctions? This one example of Alvarado is trivial. Rooftop, for example, sells most classroom projects in the $5K to $10K range, and $13K is not unheard of. Last year, their food was donated by Slanted Door (sheesh, I can’t even afford dinner at Slanted Door). At Claire Lilenthal, a classroom quilt can net $8K or more. FYI, the same quality quilt at my SF public ES will net $200. Am I angry???? No, because I can actually buy the lovely quilt at my school. Many schools charge $25 to $40 to attend the auction, but families can get reduced or free admission by providing a dessert or by volunteering at the event (set up, sign in, bartender, closing tables, clean up, etc). Volunteer hours are an important contribution to the success of an auction, just as important as paying $8K for a quilt (in my mind).

    Stop bashing Alvarado, or any school for that matter, for doing (successfully) what every school tries to do when they get into a turn around situation. This is happening at Sherman, Miraloma, and many other schools across the City. My heart goes out to those schools who only have a nucleus of 4 or 5 families, and I am sorry that you feel burned out, but those same growing pains were felt by the “pioneers” who enrolled their kids in other “horrible” schools in years past (you know, the schools that now have 30-40 families in their wait pools). Those schools gained their reputations through sweat equity. I know ‘cause I enrolled my son in one in 2004, and we are still climbing.

    Onward and Upward!

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  57. It's deja vu all over again. Some public parents complain that it's not fair that their schools are under-resourced compared to privates. Some public parents complain that it's not fair that their schools are under-resourced compared to other public schools whose parents are able and willing to do a lot of fund-raising. What we're ending up with is a certain number of increasingly privatized public schools. Haves and have-nots. 'Twas ever thus.

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  58. 10:25, I agree that Alvarado should not be singled out. But live auctions really are where the haves and have-nots are revealed, and they can be very uncomfortable for the have-nots. I've never understood the appeal of bidding thousands at an auction, as opposed to simply mailing a check to the school. Is it that everyone gets to see how generous you are? Or successful? Is it the camaraderie big bidders develop with one another? Is it the sense of actually building something together with others, face-to-face, when you have less volunteer time than nonworking parents?

    I am not saying people should not give big; just wondering why it takes a live auction to make it happen. If you are a big bidder, it would be great to hear from you about whether auctions work for you and why. I don't fault *anyone* for giving to a school in whatever manner they choose, but this particular thing has always puzzled me.

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  59. 10:25 am -- the problem which you conveniently ignore is that none of the turnarounds that happened over the past eight years happened in the face of the worst budget cuts ever! And that's what we face now. The differences in PTA fundraising used to lead to small differences: one school having a Spanish afterschool class and one not having one; one school having a rock-climbing wall while another didn't; one school going to the King Tut exhibit while another went to the zoo. I was willing to live with those differences. Now, however, they are going to mean real significant differences in learning environment -- a real loss of learning! Schools like Alvarado will have small class sizes; schools with high numbers of low SES will have large class sizes. Schools like Alvarado will have field trips and supplies; the poor schools will not. And sorry, there's no "onward and upward here." We are currently waiting for our transfer to come through or, barring that, we are going parochial -- we are OUT of this mess. Meanwhile, in Marin, a foundation called "kiddo" has so successfully raised money for ALL Marin schools that there will be no layoffs or class size increases there next year! And don't tell me that it couldn't be done here. It could, if the parents in PTAs like yours could see beyond the narrow confines of their own schools and realize that bettering ALL SF schools betters ALL of us.

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  60. 5:25, I agree with you about the live auctions. I hear it really drives up the bidding wars but it comes at a cost of excluding some of the community. It's something to consider when deciding how best to fundraise.

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  61. We bid fairly high for an item at our school (though it was nowhere near the highest bid of the evening), not at Alvarado. But, we also sent a larger check independently of that, and are not using the live auction as our main way to give money to the school at all. For us, we are used to these auctions from our preschool, and that is probably the case for many other also. There has been times when we have not bid for anything, and I have still always enjoyed seeing the high bids for the sake of the school. Most parents present know well what is at stake for the daily lives of our kids. Of course, if there is no way one could participate, I can see that one would feel differently.

    The whole auction itself is so much work that one would think there are easier ways to raise money. I don't know if there is or not, though there is something about the setting that might drive people to give more money than they otherwise would have. Showing off really isn't part of it, I feel more "shamed" into it actually - but I don't mean that in a bad way. We can afford it, and therefore we should do our bit. I have found the auctions at our kids' school to be a nice community building event, though the equity issues are very different between the preschool and the elementary school. I do feel that our school does a great job of having many events throughout the year which are open for all, irrespective of SES.

    You have a mix of communities at these schools, and the culture between the different groups are obviously different. I get that the main focus should be on equity and integration, which is hoe I experience the daily life at the school, but my sense is also that there is a relatively large group of parents that felt perfectly at home at the auction, and might even feel some relief that such an event is possible at our school. I don't say that to rub it in the face of those who are at school where it isn't possible, but this is the reality. On a daily basis I see the classrooms and the needs of the low SES kids (and this is not Clarendon with 11% free lunch), and that is a bit scary too frankly. We are happy about the diversity, but the more we can do to bolster the resources of the school, the better.

    I would be very pro a separate foundation for the school district too, and would give money to that.

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  62. To 5:25:

    The reason to bid big if you can afford it at the live auction is to donate to the school and win the classroom art project.

    It only takes two families with disposable income in the class to get a large amount of money for the school, which is the purpose of fundraising. While most families are shut out of that particular item, I'm sure most of those families are okay with that fact and realize it is to raise money for the school. In our school, usually there is a classroom art project that goes for hundreds, and individual projects for each family that sells on a sliding scale up to $50. And the admission is also on a sliding scale with a suggested amount.

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  63. 11:35/12:36, thanks for your thoughtful answers, truly. I really wouldn't want to shame anyone into or out of bidding big, and as a recipient of aid at several schools where the auction produces significant funds for aid, I am grateful that some families can go above and beyond. It can feel shameful not to be able to bid high (the item is not the point), but as long as there are ways to participate, I'm not against auctions per se. They are just a place where I tend to feel kind of shabby and useless. Thank god for the good wine that's always there.

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  64. "But live auctions really are where the haves and have-nots are revealed, and they can be very uncomfortable for the have-nots. I've never understood the appeal of bidding thousands at an auction, as opposed to simply mailing a check to the school. Is it that everyone gets to see how generous you are? Or successful? Is it the camaraderie big bidders develop with one another? "

    Goddamn it, this is frustrating. The private school parents get ragged on because they separate themselves into affluent bantustans.

    Then affluent parents who go to publics get ragged on because they overbid on a class's art project.

    Can we just be grateful that live auctions on class art projects are such an efficient way of raising much-needed money, rather than fucking resenting the fact they are giving much-needed $$$ to their school?

    "They are just a place where I tend to feel kind of shabby and useless."

    If you feel like that, then volunteer at the fundraising event, heck, be the auctioneer, where you can take pride in getting folks to part with their cash.

    San Francisco is a city of extremes of wealth and poverty. Let's at least take some pride that at some of the publics, there is some interaction between the poor, the struggling, the comfortable, and the hyper-affluent.

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  65. 8:39pm last night,

    The cuts this year are bigger, but I sure remember the wrenching cuts that were made in the years between 2003-2004. And losing Title I money to boot. So it hasn't been all rosy and now people are facing a totally different scenario. It's been up and down and a lot of work to build up the fundraising at Alvarado.

    Also, there is nothing inherently wrong about fundraising for a school, especially one that has 43% free/reduced lunch kids and a huge population of ELLs. Alvarado doesn't get additional streams of money as many low-SES schools do, even though close to half the kids actually qualify for services such as Reading Recovery. There is plenty of pain to go around, especially in providing adequate services at a mixed-population school that needs significant translation services and a mix of programs to bring kids up to speed. (One thing that happens every year--and not complaining about this, just noting it--is that newly arrived kids from Mexico and elsewhere get put into the upper grade SI classes. They don't speak any English but are expected to function in a half-English classroom and perform on English-language tests. It's a burden--a GOOD one, but it takes resources to serve these kids.)

    I'm just not sure what is served by dumping on a group of volunteer parents who are actually trying to raise funds to provide education for a huge range of kids, including lots and lots of low SES kids--in contrast to pretty much all the private schools in town. What exactly would be served by moving literacy money away from the Alvarado kids who need it? What is needed is more money, not robbing Peter to pay Paul. Giving each school a little chunk of money but not enough is the road to mediocrity.

    If there is a better way, including a larger foundation or a tax on PTA profits, or partnerships between schools in order to leverage more fundraising and distribute it more equitably, then I think you should join forces with those who keep talking about this, rather than attack other public school communities who have had some success in raising some bucks. I know I would support such efforts, and I bet most Alvarado parents would as well.

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  66. One thing that is being forgotten here is that if the state funded education properly, there would not be such pressure on parents to fundraise. I'd really like to be able to contribute to a group that devoted its efforts to increasing ALL public education funding. This state is ranked what, 49th or 50th in per pupil funding? Ridiculous. And one of the results is that we turn on and compete with each other.

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  67. How is asking why live auctions work best for big donations "dumping" on parent volunteers? I for one would like to know if and why they do, because if there is an easier way than soliciting all that merchandise, cataloging it, and so on, that would be great. Auctions have a lot of overhead. Asking if people give more if there is a live auction isn't criticizing fundraising *per se,* either. And if it's true that bidding brings camaraderie or ameliorates guilt about being less able to do on-site work, then great, that's good to know. Even if it's about showing your success in public, that's fine, too, if that works better than direct appeal fundraising. I can't think of a better place to say what's really up than an anonymous forum.

    Sometimes, down here in schlumpsville, we actually want to know something -- we aren't just criticizing.

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  68. Sorry I'm late to this.
    I know we're well into April now-

    I teach at Rooftop and we are lucky to have the community that keeps giving. Just a couple of quick corrections-

    1. Class projects rarely garner over $2K. The top this year was $5K and only 2 others went over $2500. Most projects are a few hundred. Also many student made items are available for sale for $5 to $10 throughout the evening.

    2. I hear these rumors about all the K-8s breaking fundraising records. While there have been some really, really good years, much of this belief take on a life of its own. Rooftop will barely break $100k this year and the budget cuts do effect us deeply.

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  69. 8:31, thanks for the clarifications.

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  70. I'm another Alvarado parent.

    Just would like to point out that the recent read-a-thon raised $9,000 with 90% participation by the children. The emphasis is on participation, not on money raised. Obviously some kids raised more, and the average was about $20, but that was not the emphasis--could have been a buck or two, and a filled-out sheet, to qualify for the daily raffles and to encourage the principal to do an outrageous thing, which motivates the kids to turn in their sheets. At a school of 250 kids, with 80% participation in a read-a-thon, and $5 average per kid, that's $1000 for field trips or what-all. Not that hard to organize, or to motivate.

    The Alvarado annual fund drive is similarly pushed on the basis of % participation, not amount.

    And the upcoming rummage sale is something most families can participate in as givers, buyers, or volunteers.

    There is also upcoming a non-fundraising event, one of the regular ELAC nights: a family math workshop in Spanish. There has been significant effort to involve the Spanish-language families in the programming at Alvarado.

    The main thing is organization. We have organized parents who are the professional Noe types, obviously, and that is huge. But we also have organized Latino parents, primarily through ELAC.

    FYI.

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  71. "One thing that is being forgotten here is that if the state funded education properly, there would not be such pressure on parents to fundraise."

    It's frickin' ridiculous. Tax me and let me choose to work longer to earn more money. Enough of this "ever year a budget crisis bullshit". Raise the frickin' taxes, and let's quit trying to pretend to be Massachusetts while funding education like Alabama.

    Plus time, money, and effort put into raising and coordinating fundraiser PTAs is time, money and effort we're not putting into other community organizations.

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  72. Hmm...the differences in fund raising are likely going to be exacerbated under the new system.

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  73. I agree with 12:48. Raise my taxes, please! Let's fund our schools at a Massachusetts level.

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  74. Here's a new nonprofit that helps teachers and PTAs attract donations for the resources they need: http://ClassWish.org.

    • Teachers and PTA leaders visit ClassWish.org to create wish lists of the items they need to equip great classrooms, as easily as shopping online
    • Parents, alumni, neighbors, churches, businesses, civic organizations and others see exactly what is needed and how their tax-deductible contributions can help
    • Many companies match employees’ donations (although they typically will not match donations to schools), which can double their funding
    • ClassWish has the items shipped directly to the schools at no cost to the school or teacher

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  75. If you are looking for new PTA Fundraising Ideas I strongly recommend you get in touch with Easy Fundraising Ideas. They have a very wide assortment of school fundraising ideas that have been used successfully throughout the United States.

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  76. Thanks for all the information, we have 1600 pupils in are school and are looking to set a new record by the ned of the year. We will have almost rasied $50,000 for different charities over the year.

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