Study: Parent groups in Northwest D.C. raise thousands for schools

Photo Credit: Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post

Photo Credit: Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post

Alejandra Matos of the Washington Post reports that a new study reveals that parents in Northwest D.C. raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year through parent organizations. 

Five elementary schools in Northwest D.C. raised nearly $1.4 million in a single year, money that pays for extras such as a new art teacher and classroom aides.

The parent-teacher organizations at four elementary schools — Stoddert, Key, Horace Mann and Murch — each raised more than $300,000 in the 2013-2014 school year. Janney Elementary School’s PTA raised $1.39 million that same school year, making it the fifth-wealthiest PTA in the country, said the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank in Washington.

Catherine Brown, one of the study’s authors, said D.C. reflects the wealth disparities seen in other school districts. The study, released in early April, looks at the outsize role parent contributions play in school financing.

While most traditional public schools in the District have student populations that come from low-income families, there are a handful of schools in more affluent areas where families are raising large amounts.

Those schools can ask the PTA to pay for school trips, additional instructional coaches and after-school programs. Meanwhile, schools that do not have significant PTA fundraising have to pay for those things from their regular school budgets, or they may not be able to afford them at all, the study said.

“If we consistently have a system where kids from higher-income families get more of the pie, then we are not going to address the achievement gaps,” Brown said. Read more here.