The Evanston School District 65 PTA Equity Project presented a plan for PTAs that raise more money to give money to less affluent PTAs at a town hall meeting Thursday night.
During the 2016-17 school year, the amount raised by PTAs for the district’s elementary and magnet schools ranged from $50 per student to $286 per student, according to Biz Lindsay-Ryan, an equity, diversity and inclusion facilitator and co-facilitator of the committee.
The PTA Equity Committee proposes that PTAs that raise $90 per student or more will be asked to contribute to PTAs that raise $70 per student or less.
The amount of the contribution will be no more than 12 percent and adjusted to take into consideration the percentage of free and reduced lunch population in the school. The effective proposed rate is 8-11 percent, with a goal of averaging $70 per student at all schools.
“We want to think of ourselves as a district instead of individual schools,” said Suni Kartha, president of the D65 school board and co-facilitator of the committee.
The PTAs for middle schools had a smaller range — $32 to $45 per student. Park School has limited PTA fundraising and Rice School has none.
The percentage of students at each school eligible for free and reduced lunch ranges from 20 percent to 91 percent.
PTA fundraising supports scholarships for enrichment activities, teacher stipends for supplies, funding for busses to field trips and school-wide community building. The amount of money available can affect access to activities from field trips to overnight camps.
“All of the kids wind up in high school together,” said Lindsay-Ryan. “We don’t want students to have vastly different experiences in elementary and middle school.”
Each school’s PTA will determine how they will participate in the initiative starting in the 2019-20 school year.
“We didn’t want to wait a full year to address inequalities,” said Kartha, so to have money to distribute this school year a shared PTA fund, called PEP, was established with a GoFundMe campaign, seed donations from some PTAs and a planned Fall 2018 Restaurant Week fundraiser.
The PEP fund has $18,000 to be distributed in the 2018-19 school year, with $5,000 each to Rice and Park schools and the rest to Oakton, Bessie Rhodes, Dawes and Chute. Any funds raised during Restaurant Week will also be distributed.
Starting with the 2019-20 school year, the committee’s goal is to have $50,000-60,000 each year to distribute.
Foundation 65 has agreed to act as a fiscal agent for the PEP fund and will collect the money and distribute the checks.
Capital fundraising is another source of disparity for PTAs but that has not been addressed by the committee.