Ann Arbor Public Schools PTO Council Fundraises for Funding Equity

Equal PTO funding for all Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) has become the pressing goal of the Ann Arbor PTO Council, a local parent group.

This goal stems from a recent analysis of AAPS elementary and middle school PTO budgets. PTO (or Parent-Teacher Organization) budgets are used in many ways within schools, including field trips, in-class resources, and materials that support social emotional learning. Through such uses, these funds can make a significant difference in children’s learning experiences. 

However, when the PTO Council looked at the disbursement of these funds, they noticed that funding across schools does not appear to be equally distributed.

The PTO council analysis

According to the AAPS website, the PTO Council is a parent group focused on a mission to “contribute to quality schools and facilitate parent involvement by helping identify and resolve common issues, and by promoting and sharing ideas and innovations.”

As part of this mission, the council analyzed the PTO budgets of AAPS elementary and middle schools over the last five years. Using the budgets created from 2017 to 2022, the council looked specifically at how (and where) PTO funds are being used. They found the results of this analysis both surprising and troubling.

 Specifically, the council found that funding has been distributed in unequal ways with students from some Title 1 schools receiving hundreds of dollars less than other schools in the district. In fact, the council reports that some schools have enjoyed a PTO budget of nearly six figures while others have received less than ten thousand. This means that funds range from approximately $40 per student to over $200 per student. The analysis included all but three AAPS middle and elementary schools. 

The distribution of funds 

So which schools are receiving the higher funds? Generally speaking, economically advantaged schools are receiving far more funds than schools with less economic resources.

Title I schools, which the PTO Council defines as “schools with a high percentage of students at or near poverty levels,” tended to receive the least funding, typically less than $100 per student.  

The council also found racial inequity in the distribution of funds. Schools with a higher percentage of white students tended to receive more funding than schools with higher percentages of Black and BIPOC students. 

Representatives of the PTO Council expressed their gratitude for the efforts of the PTO and the ongoing effort to provide positive school experiences for the AAPS students, but also stressed the importance of prioritizing equity in the future. 

Moving forward: The $20 for $30K fundraiser 

In order to move toward a more equitable school experience for all students, the PTO Council has set a new goal.

They are hoping to fundraise a total of $32,550 for Title 1 schools that have received an average of less than $100 per student since 2017.

These funds would average about $10 dollars per student, an amount that the council has called “a start” in the mission to increase equity in Ann Arbor Public Schools. 

The $20 for $30K fundraiser asks the question: Can you help us create a more equitable Ann Arbor? 

Interested in contributing? For this fundraiser, the PTO Council is asking for 1,500 people to donate $20 through the gofundme. Individuals can also send a check to Ann Arbor PTO Council, P.O. Box 7874, Ann Arbor, MI, 48107.

Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Author: Dr. Alyssa Whitford is a former K-12 teacher and current professor of education at Hope College in Holland, MI. She is passionate about literacy, social studies, and all things education. She is also a proud parent to two children of her own and loves sharing the holiday season with family.

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