Do WCCUSD schools favor PTAs or PTOs?

My PTA (Parent Teacher Association) at Ohlone Elementary School is currently exploring the option of converting to PTO  (Parent Teacher Organization) status.  I was originally on board with this idea because of the fact that more of our funds would then go directly into our school, instead of to the national PTA body.  I believe 10% of our dues are paid to the parent organization.  (Side note: each Hercules PTA charges a different amount for their PTA dues, the range being $5 to $20). I have also had some concerns with some of the PTA/Teacher Union relationships.  I support teachers, but I often am at disagreement with their unions.  

Having said that, one thing that is important to me as a resident of Hercules is the building and fostering of an "education community."  Which entity can have the most impact with this objective?  Will 5 Hercules PTOs result in 5 separate entities who do not communicate and work with each other?  Do we already have this same situation with PTAs?  Hercules currently has 3 PTAs representing our 3 elementary schools, plus a nonprofit  parents organization representing Hercules Middle High School. Our PTAs seem to be focusing on their respective school sites, and then the national level, nothing in between.  It isn't clear to me if they interact much.  The WCCUSD does have the Bayside Council of PTAs, but it isn't clear what their function is. 

Hercules has never had an elected representative on the school board, so I have been looking for some other means to help build a cohesive education community.   Which entity (PTA or PTO) has the best track record for building such communities?  Which do you prefer?

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Jen Komaromi December 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Sounds like a great idea. Wonder what the benefit of being in the national organization is? Insurance? We definitely need to work together to make WCCUSD schools better. One idea that I was hoping to create is to have a PTA Roundtable for all the feeder schools to Portola and El Cerrito High. If we create strong feeder school communities it will be easier to maintain in the middle and high school years. We all can learn from one another, fundraising ideas, enrichment, etc. It is a little frustrating in our area to see the economic disparity between schools. Some schools have PTA's that raise $400K while others struggle to raise anything. In addition, those with stronger PTA's end up having community members transfer in to their schools thus creating a brain drain and the neighborhood schools with growing PTA's struggle to get involved parents. Besides the dues, what are the benefits of being a PTO?
Giorgio C. December 12, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Both have offer insurance options. Check out the PTA PTO differences "at a glance" found here <http://www.ptotoday.com/pto-vs-pta-differences-at-a-glance>. Non-profit status isn't required for PTOs, but it is for PTAs. If one does not support the national PTA effort, then PTOs seem to make more sense for those concerned with their school site only. Again, I ask, which would be best for a city or community? I'd like to see such a PTA or PTO "Roundtable" as Jen has proposed. Which entity can make this happen?
Jen Komaromi December 13, 2013 at 09:34 AM
It would be an informal gathering. Was going to email the various PTA's and invite them. I have a business in EC and know many involved parents, with enough space to host.
Felicia Robertson December 13, 2013 at 04:43 PM
PTA is a volunteer-run organization founded in 1897 to improve the lives of children in education, health and safety, and is a child advocacy organization as opposed to a fundraising organization. Each unit (school site PTA) plans the programs they would like to provide for their children and families at school and raise the funds necessary to fund those programs. We work together on the local, state and federal levels providing one strong voice on behalf of all children. Bayside Council of PTAs is the umbrella PTA for our units in West Contra Costa Unified School District and John Swett Unified School District and we provide direct training and assistance to every unit. PTAs also benefit from expertise and resources provided by the National, California State PTA and Thirty-second District PTA to navigate the complex arena of running a nonprofit corporation. For more information on the benefits of PTA membership, go to http://www.capta.org/sections/membership/value-pta-membership.cfm. Felicia Robertson, Executive Vice President Bayside Council of PTAs


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