California School Board strips local PTAs’ fundraising powers

Well, the school board out in Santa Monica did it, stripping the fundraising and spending powers of individual PTAs. Now parents from wealthier Malibu, which has no representation on the school board, are talking secession.

From the Malibu Patch:

In what two board members proclaimed to be the most significant votes of their tenures, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously late Tuesday to shake up the district’s fundraising rules.

Shortly before midnight and after more than three hours of public input, the board voted 6-0 to prohibit school PTAs from raising money to hire personnel and to block them from funding programs and services eliminated in the wake of state budget cuts.

The nonprofit Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation will be placed in charge of these efforts as early as the 2013-14 school year, but no later than July 2014.

“Allowing individual PTAs to raise and expend money to hire staff in SMMUSD is a practice … [that] has created great inequities across the district,” said Superintendent Sandra Lyon. It “creates a climate in which the instruction and instructional experiences students receive and the conditions in which teachers work are altered by the amount of money individual PTAs can raise.”

The sweeping changes will spark a “change in culture that includes caring about all children in the district,” said Board member Laurie Lieberman, who added that the move isn’t a cure-all to closing the achievement gap.

But the changes have also wrought divisions between parents in Santa Monica and Malibu, which has no representation on the Board of Education and is now looking to splinter off to form its own district.

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