I'll start with PTA:
A PTA is a local chapter of a parent group that is affiliated with both the state organization and the National PTA. They have paid employees that work at their headquarters in Alexandria, VA. All local chapters are required to pay dues (which means all members pay dues). Most local chapters have to pay $700 (or more) on state and national dues and an additional $100-$300 on insurance. PTA dues support state and national advocacy efforts and local PTA groups cannot advocate publicly against PTA approved positions. The local PTA is part of the state and national political and advocacy efforts and the local chapter can play a role in determining National PTA positions.
Now, on to PTO, which is what we are at Aurora:
A PTO is an independent parent group. There are no paid employees, as there are no state and national affiliates. Dues are completely optional and are up to each group to decide if and how much. THERE ARE NO DUES FOR AURORA'S PTO. If you have a child at Aurora Elementary, then you are already a member of the PTO! It's that simple! We are a non-profit organization and any money we bring in through fundraising goes right back into our school. Most PTO groups (Aurora's included) choose not to play an advocacy/political role. Instead, we remain focused on school- student- teacher support, parent involvement, and community building. Most importantly, (in my opinion), is that PTO groups devote their energies toward work focused on a single school.
Our PTO has 2 "functions" (for lack of better terms). We fundraise and we serve. We have our big fundraiser in the fall (Sept. 19th is the kick-off date this year) and like it was previously mentioned, all money goes right back into the school. This year, every classroom teacher has a brand new, giant, multi-colored square rug for their classroom that was purchased with PTO funds from the fundraiser. We run the book fair and collect box tops too. We also do lots of service projects, such as the school supply kits, conference meals for the teachers, funding field trips, the school play, and 5th grade farewell, to name just a few. We are looking into some new, exciting ideas for this school year (stay tuned for more details!)
Hopefully, this gives you a general picture of what our PTO looks like and how we are different from a PTA. I urge you to check it out first hand on Tuesday, September 3rd at our first meeting. You will not be guilted to be on a committee or sign away hours volunteering. I promise!! No fees and free childcare...what do you have to lose? (See previous post about everything you have to gain!)