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How PTA fundraising is creating a disparity among San Francisco elementary schools

Photo by Tearsa Joy Hammock / San Francisco Public Press


Elementary school parent-teacher associations (PTAs) might conjure up images of bake sales and silent auctions. But how much money do you think a PTA can really raise?

"I really didn’t think PTAs budgets were that big," says San Francisco Public Press reporter Jeremy Adam Smith. "You know, you think the SFUSD budget is about 700 million dollars. If a bunch of parents raise 50 thousand what difference does that make?"

In 2011, the latest year that data is available, parents at San Francisco elementary schools collectively raised over five million dollars for their kids’ schools. That’s just one of the many surprising trends Smith and his colleagues from the San Francisco Public Press found in their analysis of ten-years worth of PTA tax records. Smith spoke with KALW’sHana Baba about the investigation.

Click the audio player below to listen to Part I of the interview. 


Smith discovered in his reporting that the relative fundraising power of PTAs is a particularly important issue in San Francisco, where the school district has set up a system to avoid this type of inequality.

Click the audio player below to hear more on this in Part II and III of the interview below. 



Read more about PTA funding for San Francisco elementary schools in the winter edition of the San Francisco Public Press

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.