The Questions and Answers below have been accumulated through actual questions asked of the PTO and the answers are the actual answers given. If you have additional questions you would like to have answered, whether or not they need to appear here, please email the Kenrose PTO President, Kristen Richardson, at KenrosePTO@gmail.com. We will be happy to respond.
KENROSE PTO FAQS
Q: How does the PTO determine how to allocate the funds raised each year?
A: The Kenrose PTO begins the budgeting process in March of the current year for the next school year. The goal is to finalize the budget by the end of April and have the General PTO vote upon the budget in May prior to school being let out.
The Williamson County School Board of Education (WCSBOE) allots government funding to each school within the district based upon student enrollment and additional factors related to student needs. Some of those calculations are dictated by State Law. The end result is, no matter how much more the County would like to provide, each school is given a limited amount of dollars. The result is that certain needs cannot be met, such as educational software memberships, technology, classroom materials for enhancing learning, landscaping maintenance, teacher celebrations, entry into educational contests for students, further professional development for teachers,and the list goes on. The Kenrose PTO organization is the main funding source for Kenrose Elementary School to bridge the gap of county funding.
The PTO Board starts the process of creating a budget by reviewing the current year needs (expenses) which were supported by the PTO's fundraising. The needs are then reviewed with the Principal and the staff on new and/or changing needs for the next school year.
The Principal keeps an ongoing list of projects and needs for Kenrose that will not be fulfilled by the County Budget. The PTO uses this information to determine if there needs to be changes from the current budget for the next school year. In addition, we request each staff person to fill out a funds request defining any specific needs they may have.
General classroom teachers receive about $100 for their individual classroom from the WCSBOE funding and about another $100 that must be combined with all other teachers on the same grade level for grade level needs. This is not enough funding to fully provide the supplies needed in the classroom that are over and above the school supply boxes purchased by parents. Therefore, the PTO provides additional funding each year to teachers. In 2016-17, the PTO has budgeted $350 per general classroom teacher and $300 per staff person. They are allowed to use these dollars for classroom needs only. These are a one-time payment each year to the teachers and the use of it is tracked. However, there can be needs beyond what the Build the Nest allocation may cover and if so, they must complete a funds request. The requests are reviewed by the PTO President and Treasurer in conjunction with the Principal. Requests approved are included in the PTO budget.
The final piece of our budget, is to ask for parent input on any items they might like to see added or subtracted. Taking into account all of this information, the PTO Executive Board creates a budget. The budget is first approved by the Executive PTO Board and then it is approved by the General PTO prior to the beginning of the new school year.
For more information about the various areas of our budget go to the fundraising page and click on How funds are used.
Q: Can the PTO save funds from the current year if they raise more than the budgeted income goal and use for the next school year?
A: The PTO has asked this question to Kenrose families many times over the years and the majority response from the families is that they want their money spent in the year in which they contribute. Further, this is a standard followed by many non-profits. The money raised is directed to the current year expenses. We do carry over every year enough funds to cover summer expenses until the new fundraising begins again. We also will put aside funds to accumulate for a General PTO approved large project, such as funding the track re-surfacing, playground improvements, or creating a track maintenance fund. But retaining funds is only done when approved by a vote of both the Executive and the General PTO.
Q: How does the PTO fundraise?
A: The PTO has one main fundraiser (covers about 88% of budget) and then several small passive type fundraisers (cover about 12% of budget). (Summary of fundraisers.)
The main fundraiser is our Build the Nest (BTN) check writing campaign. Somewhere around 2004, a survey of our parents indicated our families would rather write a simple donation check than participate in selling items to raise PTO funds. At that time, the PTO continued another large active fundraiser in the Spring, called the FUN RUN, to complete the fundraising needs. Somewhere around 2011, a survey of our parents indicated they would rather include an extra amount in their check writing campaign, than have to raise funds via the FUN RUN. Since that time, the Kenrose PTO raises the majority of its funds, via the check writing campaign.
Each of the last several years of Build the Nest we have budgeted around $90,000 for our fundraising check campaign and each year we have raised higher than our target by about $10,000 (an average of around $10 per student).
Each of the last several years we have also exceeded our fundraising goal for Family Fun Night (FFN). However, please note, FFN fundraising is never something we feel secure in relying upon. Funds are raised via the Teacher's Treasure auction, corporate sponsors, and vendor tables at the event. Every year it is a race to the finish to pull together all that is necessary to make the event happen. Remember, we are 100% volunteer parents putting this together, not professional fundraisers. We think, what happens if bids don’t come through? What if we don't have enough people interested in coming to FFN and we can't cover the costs and that then eats into the sponsorship funds? What if something goes wrong in our planning and we eat costs? Each year for the last several years we have exceeded the FFN goal by about $5,000 (an average of about $5 per student).
There are a few supplementary avenues of fundraising, retailer programs, Student Fun Nights and Box Tops. Retailer programs are when a vendor offers a program where the purchaser may tell the Vendor to which organization they may donate the percentage of proceeds designated from the buyers purchase. Publix and Amazon Smile are our retailer programs.
The second supplemental fundraiser is our Student Fun Nights. The student fun nights allow students to get together at a local establishment and have fun with fellow classmates and family. The vendor establishment gives back a small percentage of sales to the PTO. Our Student Fun Nights include, Skate Nights at Brentwood Skate Center and Spirit Nights at local restaurants.
Box Tops is a program by General Mills, where certain of their products have what look like small coupons on them. If these are cut out and sent in, the PTO raises 10 cents per box top submitted.
The final result for budgeting purposes is that while we can estimate our needs and how much we want to raise, we cannot possibly include an exact estimate of income raised, nor do we include what we will do with any funds raised in excess of the budgeted goal. We match the fundraising goal to the expenses we have found reasonable to support.
Q: What does the PTO do with the funds it raises beyond the budgeted goal? sometimes called a surplus?
A: First we want to address the nuance in the word surplus. Funds raised which exceed our budgeted income goals is the ‘surplus.’ So the money is not excess funds or even funds not needed. It is hard to come up with a word to concisely describe it, so often the term ‘surplus’ is used.
The PTO budgets an income figure that we believe is a reasonable goal of funds to expect to raise and then we must balance our budget with expenses so we earn no income. It is the intent of the PTO to spend all raised funds within the year they are raised. So that raises two issues in creating our budget: The first is as a non-profit we can only spend what we raise, but how do you budget exactly for fundraising, when some years are good and others may not be? The second is there is always a long list of needs that exceeds what we can reasonably budget since we can’t know exactly what we will raise, so how do we balance the need with reasonable fundraising goals?
For example, there is always a need for technology as computers don’t last more than a several years and must be replaced. Or the need for replacement parts, etc. We put a certain amount for technology in the initial budget each year, but the need is always much greater. It is similar with other areas of expense too. Therefore, the Kenrose PTO budgets a conservative fundraising goal. However, if we are blessed enough to raise more than our budgeted goal, the PTO must determine how to use those additional funds.
We work with the school administration and the General PTO membership to determine the needs to which the funds will be applied. A budget amendment will result which will define how the Executive Board suggests the PTO spend the income raised. The budget amendment is voted upon the Executive Board first and then by the General PTO membership.
Q: Why can’t the PTO pay for class fees?
A: The total dollars required to cover the entire schools class fees is just under $25,000. Class fees per student are on average, from $20 to $25 per student. Historically, class fees are a NON-PTO fee. Class fees are requested from the school/teacher to the parents. Class fees are collected and maintained by the school, not by PTO.
Class fees are used to purchase a certain approved list of supplies (See the approved purchases for class fees for 2016-17) for each student, made up of items that are not included in the student supply boxes (see student school supply lists for K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th). Note - class fees should also not be confused with Room Parent fee requests for money to host class parties through out the school year).
Class fees are optional, and any consumables not used during the year must be sent home with the children at the end of the year. There is a request from the WCSBOE that since WCS schools request class fees, that the teachers do not post wish lists.
In regard to the PTO covering class fees via its fundraising, it is not that their is a WCSBOE policy against the PTO collecting for class fees, instead the general agreement has been that if these fees are defined and collected separately, the fees would be more readily collected. If the fee were grouped into the PTO budget, it is a question if the PTO could continue to collect the funding necessary to cover all that the PTO currently supports (see PTO Budget) in addition to the class fees. As the details become lost in the larger budget, and we have found the larger the budget, the harder it may be to communicate the needs.
What the PTO does provide is various amounts of funding to each teacher, ranging from $450 to $1,800 per classroom/year, differentiated based on needs between a general classroom teacher, a special education teacher, or a specials teacher (music, art, etc.) These funds do not cover the purchases that would be covered under the class fee.
These fees are for the purchase of instructional and educational supplies (books, instructional supplements/materials to enhance learning, software programs). There are exceptions where a small amount of these funds are used to purchase instructional materials such as additional paper or pencils.
Q: How does the PTO determine the best choice for making purchases of various items in its budgets?
A: Purchases made for items of any kind which are specifically for the school must be made through county vetted and approved vendors. The product specifications, of most items, are defined by county to insure quality and the safety of the items purchased for the teachers and the children. In addition, the standardization of purchases across the county schools allows the county to support and maintain those products more efficiently and cost effectively. The PTO does obtain quotes from the various county approved vendors to obtain the most competitive price for the specific product. Purchases made for the PTO are vetted by the PTO Board through on-line research and obtaining competitive bids. The entire Executive PTO Board takes their fiscal responsibility very seriously. We work very hard to spend all monies wisely.
Q: Why does the PTO have a budget for Teacher & Staff Hospitality, isn't this something the school should cover?
A: The funding provided to the schools from the WCSBOE is federal, state and local tax dollars. There are laws in place that do not allow those funds to be spent on teacher birthdays, teacher celebration of goals reached, etc. The only way the school is able to raise funds for these types of events is through the use of vending machines profits and the PTO.
The Kenrose PTO has historically budgeted funds to provide at least 10 to 12 small treats to the teachers to boost morale and make the teacher's feel appreciated and enjoy their workplace. This usually consists of a once monthly event where each teacher/staff is provided a slushy, or ice cream sundae. Nothing large.
The PTO also budgets a small amount monthly to celebrate teacher birthdays. The teacher who has a birthday that month is given a small cupcake or similar to wish them happy birthday.
The PTO budgets funds to host a luncheon 3 to 4 times a year to feed all of the Kenrose Educators. The funds budgeted do not fully fund these luncheons. The PTO Board volunteers must seek out food sponsors for each event to have enough food to provide this event.
Finally, the PTO budgets funds to celebrate Teacher Appreciation week where all educators are provided a light breakfast one day, a lunch on one day, and a light treat (think sundaes/slurpees, etc.) on yet another day. The remainder of the Teacher Appreciation week is completed voluntarily by those parents who wish to participate via room parent direction.
The total budgeted for this area is $3,000 or somewhere around $3 per student/year.
Q: Why doesn't the school/county cover landscaping and playground maintenance? Why should any PTO funds be spent on this area?
A: The WCSBOE funding to the school automatically covers mowing services, one annual wood chip mulching of playground as needed and maintenance of the actual playground equipment. The county funds do not provide enough to provide weed control, cutting of bushes, trees, or rubber mulch on the playgrounds. The PTO funds these as needed within the annual budget of around $4,000 or around $4 per student/year.
Further, any unused funds within this budget category or any funds raised over the budgeted fundraising goal in total are usually allocated to improve on the playground, such as in the 2015-2016 the PTO added a Shade Structure to the K-2 playground and in 2016 the PTO added asphalt to the 3-5 playground under benches and the tether balls. These were requests made by teachers/students. The Shade structure to provide more shade. The asphalt to keep those areas from getting and staying muddy most of all and winter.
Q: Why can’t the PTO purchase different laptops or computer carts for the school that may result in more savings?
A: The PTO is only allowed to purchase the technology models approved by the county so the technology will be uniform throughout the county; in return the county repairs and maintains the equipment.
The technology department cannot support and maintain too many different models as the knowledge base to support so many different types of hardware and software becomes too great. Therefore, the counties Information Technology department sets the product specifications for all software and hardware technology.
Another example of such specifications is the computer cart to house the computers. Otherwise known as a COW (computer on wheels). The cart specifications and vendors are defined by the county technology department. The carts are specific to the technology they hold. The bays are configured specifically for the technology to be locked into the bay and to have connections to which they may be attached to charge. It is not just a regular cart on which to stack computers. These carts also allow the technology to be locked inside the cart, inaccessible to anyone without the key.
Q: Why does the PTO continue to purchase more technology for the school when the county has a Bring Your Own Technology to school initiative?
A: Teachers and students need computers to utilize online textbook components and other instructional software. The on-line software helps teachers differentiate instruction and meet the needs of individual students and groups more effectively and efficiently. Student BYOT devices do not consistently run these applications which are needed to support curriculum and activities within the classroom. Student BYOT device issues are not supported by the county IT, so in order to have programs run consistently, technology must be provided by the school in order to obtain support when needed. Further, the teachers cannot take the time to trouble shoot the various devices when using technology to perform assessments or testing. Technology provided through the school is maintained by the Technology Instructor.
Further, STAR testing in reading and math for all WCS students, including over 900+ K-5 students at Kenrose, is administered online three times per year and more often for some students. In addition, benchmark assessments in science and social studies for students in 2nd through 5th grade are administered online. Finally, all state testing for 3rd through 5th grade will be online. This includes the new TNReady assessment in reading and math as well as TCAP in science and social studies.
Q: How does a parent request funds for certain events or ask that consideration be given to purchase items for the school where they see a need?
A: The PTO Board is always open to requests from parents. Parents do not need to wait for the budget process or a general PTO meeting to address their questions, concerns, or comments. You may address your request to any Board member, if you don't know any, please try the President or Treasurer first. See the PTO Board contact information to obtain the names and e-mail addresses of the PTO Board
Q: Who may join the General PTO?
A: All Kenrose educators and any immediate family of a student at Kenrose Elementary is a member of the General PTO. Currently, there are no membership dues.
Q: How does someone get onto the Executive PTO Board?
A: Each year in the spring of the school year, usually March, the current PTO will send out an e-mail request indicating which positions will become vacant for the next year. Nominations are requested at that time. However, you may get involved at any time by contacting the Board and asking how you may be of service.
Q: Are the Executive PTO Board positions paid or volunteer?
A: All positions of the Executive PTO Board are 100% volunteer. The Board is made up of 11 parents and two administration employees, the principal and a teacher representative.
Q: How can a general PTO member determine the financial status of the PTO?
A: The Treasurer of the Board is required to present the financial picture to the General PTO at every General PTO meeting. General PTO meetings are held 3 to 4 times a school year. The Treasurer is also required to present the financial status of the PTO to the Executive Board at each monthly meeting of the Executive Board. These reports are kept under the information tab of the Kenrose PTO website,www.KenrosePTO.com. You may also ask the Treasurer directly at any time to see and discuss the status.