By Risha Rohera
and Alex White
Executive Opinion Editor
The proposed idea of changing Manhattan Beach Unified School District’s Parent Teacher Associations into Parent Teacher Organizations will help save money and give the district more freedom to support state decisions that are better for MBUSD.
Across all schools in MBUSD, PTA leaders have been meeting to discuss reform that would separate the district’s organizations from the California and National PTAs and allow them to operate more freely. For example, when the California PTA supports certain propositions, MBUSD’s PTAs must also support them. With this change, the new PTOs could support legislation as they see fit.
One area where the district sorely needs help is funding. With a separation from state and national PTAs, yearly dues that come from each parent’s membership donation would be eliminated. Groups like the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation work to keep administrative overhead to a minimum. The proposed PTOs would be able to save money that would go directly to programs instead of paying higher groups that don’t even necessarily support measures that benefit MBUSD. Teaching positions may be cut for the next school year, and additional funds could go to helping pay for teachers.
Furthermore, the state and national PTAs often have differing interests than the parent-led groups in MBUSD. Because MBUSD serves such an affluent community, the district has needs that are very unique when it comes to certain tax proposals and legislation. The needs of MBUSD are different from LAUSD or similarly underfunded districts.
But those districts are the majority in the state, so the California PTA represents state-wide interests, leaving MBUSD behind.
Allowing PTOs to operate independently would also have benefits beyond lowering costs and would keep MBUSD free of overall state and national interests. For example, PTOs, instead of fundraising and collecting membership donations individually, could collude and fundraise together. That means that all the schools can work together in order to reduce class sizes instead of having to operate individually.
Opponents of the change to PTOs claim that being free of state and national influence would allow a smaller group of people to have more power. However, PTOs are very democratic organizations in their voting process where all those who wish to participate in the community can do so, preventing a few parents from having too much influence.
A shift in MBUSD from having PTAs to having PTOs would help the district in terms of freedom and would get more funding directly into classrooms. If created, The new organizations will also be able to tailor their actions to the specific needs of Manhattan Beach students.