The LAUSD Board voted to temporarily waive fees charged to parent-teacher organizations and booster clubs when they hold one-day school fundraising events on campus.
The decision to waive fees for one year charged to PTAs, PTOs and boosters, as well as to simplify forms and put them online in multiple languages, came out of a working group created to make parent participation easier at LAUSD. It follows a decision by the district to waive fees charged to fingerprint parents who want to volunteer on campus.
“I really appreciate that the district has listened to feedback from parents about how much red tape exists to support their children’s schools and is taking this step toward bringing families in rather than pushing them away,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin (BD4), who has been advocating since he joined the board to change arcane rules that penalize parents.
Melvoin argued that for-profit companies leasing space on campuses should be charged more than organizations serving students, and he pointed out the absurdity of the fact that LAUSD still requires groups to pay with a cashier’s check rather than a credit card, PayPal or Venmo.
Shaina Bogorad, a parent with children at Chandler elementary and Community magnet, told the board that the district charges fees to have food trucks at evening events or meetings that often generate less revenue than the fees the district charges. “It’s very hard to get families to show up straight from work at an event in the evening for the kids at 7:30 or 8 p.m. and not provide food for them or children,” the parent said. “No food results in less attendance. One event was held off campus to avoid dealing with this policy.”
The district is allocating $300,000 to cover the waiver of custodial and paperwork fees and to help provide training for PTA, PTO and booster club parent leaders. Parents have complained for years about bureaucratic hurdles to fundraising on campus, and for some schools with low-income populations, the fees have prevented parents from even considering fundraising events at all.
“If we want to bring our families and communities into our schools, it’s essential to remove barriers to participating that disproportionally and overwhelmingly impact our schools and communities of color that have fewer resources,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez (BD6). “There are inequities when it comes to parent ability to raise funds across our communities…I hope we’re leveling the playing field a little bit for communities like mine. ”
Board Member George McKenna (BD1) initially objected to waiving the parent fees, arguing that the district could not afford to help parents while laying off district employees during a budget crunch. Once staff members explained that the district would only be losing $137,000 in fees – a drop in the nearly $8 billion budget -- McKenna acquiesced. But he did so while questioning the integrity of booster clubs, which have more independence than PTA groups, claiming that some never give the money from their fundraisers to the schools.
Board Member Jackie Goldberg (BD5) urged the superintendent to require booster clubs to report to LAUSD exactly how much money they generate from fundraisers held on campus. Also, for the second meeting in a row, Goldberg pushed to delay a package of changes to the board governance rules to bring them in line with those of most other school boards and to focus meeting time on improving student achievement. Even after Melvoin agreed to all the changes she requested, Goldberg still voted no and urged additional delay on all but a small portion of the changes.