Town Square

Post a New Topic

Are PTA's donations to Measure E Legal?

Original post made by PTAs are a PAC (Political Action Committee), Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Apr 13, 2011

Donating to your PTA is not necessarily going to help the classrooms. If you look at the donations the PTAs made to the parcel tax campaign, you can see where their donations are going. Hearst School PTA donated $5,000 to the parcel tax campaign, according to documents filed with the county.

I always thought that my donations to the PTA went to education, and not to campaigns. After I saw just about every school's PTA donated to the parcel tax campaign, I have decided never to donate to PTA anymore. I thought the PTA was void of politics. I don't mind the PTAs getting involved in volunteering for the parcel tax campaign, or individual members contributing to the campaign, but it does not seem right that the PTA can donate money that was donated to the PTA by parents who thought the money was going to directly impact their schools.

If you go to the California PTA website, you will see:

"PTA does not directly finance election campaigns or divert PTA funds to any other organization, including campaign organizations. (PTA members may, as individuals, donate to a campaign if they choose to do so. A PTA may invite its members to contribute to a campaign as long it does not appear coercive or expected.) "

You will also see:

"Protect PTA nonpartisan policy and tax-exempt status

To retain tax-exempt status and continue to receive tax-deductible contributions, PTAs may not 1) devote more than an insubstantial part of their activities to influence legislation, including ballot measures (generally interpreted as not exceeding five percent of total income);

2) participate in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for national, state, or local public office.

A unit's failure to comply with these restrictions may endanger PTA council, district, California State PTA and National PTA 501(c)(3) status."

Since Hearst Elementary PTA donated $5,000 according to campaign filings, that seems substantial. I don't know their budget but if they donated $5,000 and they are not supposed to donate more than 5% of their income, that means that the Hearst PTA needs to bring in more than $100,000 a year or they have donated more than 5% of the income to a political campaign. I also do not believe they can donate directly to a campaign but can advocate for and spend some money on fliers.

Here are the donations listed at the county:
Hearst PTA: $5,000
Fairlands PTA: $999
Lydiksen PFC: $999
Walnut Grove PTA: $999
Harvest Park PTA: $999
Pleasanton PTA Council: $250

Comments (33)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Drexl
a resident of Ironwood
on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

You are reaching here. PTA is for the students and teachers alike; in such, they are serving their best interest in promoting Measure E; too bad not all PTAs pitched in.

This is not an election campaign; who is Measure E electing? It is a parcel tax. Nice try though. Spend that much time working with kids and maybe we will be ok with higher students per teacher ratios.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by optimistic mom
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

PTA is a membership organization and one of its purposes is to advocate for children and education. Each PTA unit's members voted on whether to donate a portion of their funds to a campaign like measure E.

If you look at the state PTA's goals, #3 is aligned with advocating for measure E.

Web Link

"Promote, support and engage in advocacy on behalf of children, youth and families in our schools, communities, state and nation."

And yes, our PTAs raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Pleasanton schools. They also work with parents to coordinate classroom volunteering worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more. Voting to endorse measure E and donating less than 5% of their funds to the campaign are only small ways that the PTAs contribute to a better education for Pleasanton students.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fact checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Why doesn't the NO on D people publish their FPPC number? Because then they would have to be transparent!

BTW it is illegal to collect donations for a political purpose and NOT have an FPPC number!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I think it is legal for the PTAs to donate money to the measure E campaign. From the IRS website:

"May a section 501(c)(3) organization make a contribution to a ballot measure committee (committees supporting or opposing ballot initiatives or referenda)?

Yes, a section 501(c)(3) organization may make a contribution to a ballot measure committee (committees supporting or opposing ballot initiatives or referenda), but it must include such contributions in its lobbying calculations for purposes of determining whether a substantial part of its activities consist of attempting to influence legislation."



Web Link

Web Link

The amount of money donated by the various PTAs does not look like a "substantial part of its activities" - I do not think any laws have been broken.

I hope you change your mind and support measure E.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by optimistic mom
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Fact checker -- great question. I was wondering who was paying for those NO signs. I googled FPPC and learned that it is the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

If the NO campaign is not following the laws about fair campaigning, then people might take that into account when deciding how to vote. After all, the opposition could be funded entirely by a real estate developer who wants to avoid paying a parcel tax on undeveloped pieces of property. If they won't file reports about who is part of the "Pleasanton Educated Voters Coalition", how do we even know that the opponents are members of our community?

I don't like the way that some opponents of the measure have accused district staff of lying. It's one thing to say that you interpret events differently than someone else -- I can respect that. But to say that someone else is lying just because they don't see the world the way you do seems really manipulative.

Some individuals may not like the fact that PTAs have chosen to support measure E, but it is still perfectly legal for the PTAs to do so.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Start Afresh
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Here's an FPPC doc about non-profit organizations like PTAs and their obligations regarding reporting Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Start Afresh
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 13, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Looks like the No on E people would only need to file for organization when spending reaches $1000. Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by checking
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Start Afresh, I saw the same thing. Needs to get to $1,000. Don't think they have spent that much money. I don't think there is an organized campaign committee. I have not seen fliers being mailed or phone calls made or a lot of signs. Pretty grassroots. The Yes campaign has spent about $46,000 according to their filings. Definitely over the $1,000 threshold.

On the PTAs giving money, it seems the California PTA does not want direct contributions to a campaign; a person or an issue:

"PTA does not directly finance election campaigns or divert PTA funds to any other organization, including campaign organizations"

I think Hearst Elementary PTA is pushing the limit with their $5,000 contribution as that is a pretty sizable donation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I don't know if the legality really matters that much.

What is a bit concerning is that donating to a person's own school seemed to be one viable option for people who didn't want to support parcel taxes or CORE for various reasons. Donating to someone's own school was claimed to be a good direct way to get money to the classroom. It's a shame some of it didn't get there, although I suppose it will indirectly if Measure E passes. If it doesn't it's good money gone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:16 am

My child's school held a bake sale to raise this donation money- in one day they made over $600. I never thought I'd see the day when we are selling baked goods to keep our schools running.

I sure don't see Oracle, Workday, Safeway etc out with their lemonade stand to keep company running and their "administrators" seem to be making quite the hefty salaries- with annual raises and bonuses.

Our priorities are certainly twisted.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by checking
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

John, you hit the nail on the head. When a company like Oracle, Workday, or Safeway has income that is less, they lay people off and/or reduce their pay/benefits. A company that reduces their services, even in a down cycle, will loose customers and spiral the company down to non-existence.

The school district is part of our government and so far is a monopoly, that is controlled by unions. The unions say they will not budge on their pay or pensions and tell the district to just lay off newer, lower-paid people, so the people who have been employed for some time can continue their pay raises and great pensions. I never thought I would be supportive of school vouchers but am starting to think we might need to do this to generate competition for services.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by comment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

To "checking",

"A company that reduces their services, even in a down cycle, will loose customers and spiral the company down to non-existence. "

Oracle did exactly that. Oracle reduced it services and narrowed its platform support to reduce costs. It allowed the company to survive rough times.

" The unions say they will not budge on their pay "

The unions agreed to no COLAs and to take mandatory days off without pay. It may not be the concession you want but it is wrong to say they "will not budge."

At any rate, it sounds like you are supporting Measure E. Welcome aboard.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

You can think of the money the PTAs give to the YES on E campagne as funding for the eductions of the general public.

It's unfortunate that they have to spend so much money on educating the public on a such a simple choice. Vote Yes on E to help maintain the high quality of Pleasanton schools and the property values high quality schools bring. Vote No on E and help contribute to the decline of the schools to mediocre status and property values on par with Dublin and Livermore. Your choice. What will it be?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 9:25 am

To: PTAs are a PAC

Since you have been donating money to your respective PTA, I'm assuming you are a member. If so, you had the opportunity to vote whether or not your respective PTA endorses Measure E. It's good measure to know when your PTA is having a meeting and the agenda presented, then you have an opportunity to speak your mind and vote accordingly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Involved Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 9:31 am

As someone who is involved in a number of the PTA's who donated money.
1. it is legal, as it comes up for a vote before the General Membership for each school BEFORE the money is given.
2. having attended 3 different school's PTA General Membership meetings (held either every month or every other month depending on the school)the month that each Executive Board brought the question up to the General Membership as to whether to provide funds to the "Yes on E" measure....there was none to very little opposition to the PTA's to support the measure. Thus, obviously (since we are a democracy) the majority of the PTA members where not against the PTA's supporting the measure, since they did not a) show up at the general meeting to question it, and b) vote against it. Executive Boards of PTA's cannot make decisions like this without the members' approval. Like with the last parcel tax issue, on at least one of boards the money was money put asside for teacher appreciation and the teachers requested the money go towards the parcel tax rather than a luncheon for them (which is their right as well).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by checking
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

To "comment",

Oracle analyzed their services and found which ones make sense and also became more efficient. You cannot easily make things more efficient in the schools because you have to have the approval of the unions.

The unions did not agree to no COLA. COLA is not a negotiated item as part of the contract. It is analyzed each year by the district and obviously if the district does not receive COLA from the state there is no COLA to pass along.

The days off without pay are a one-time solution to a structural problem. I thank the unions for doing that but it does not fix our structural issues.

So "comment", I am glad we have you turned around to vote No on Measure E.

To Brian, the reason the district is raising the money for the campaign is they have not done an effective job. There should be no need for campaign costs. Measure G was the first example of that. They spent over $100,000 (I believe) on the yes side of that campaign and lost while there was no, or little, money spent on a No campaign. The people who voted No said why they were voting no. The district ignored them, and has still ignored them by placing another parcel tax on the ballot without addressing the public's concerns. For the most part, people have trouble with the structural problems of giving out raises while they ask us for more money. I believe if they halted all raises during a parcel tax, they could pass a parcel tax for $500 with no problem.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by comment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

"I am glad we have you turned around "

There is a misunderstanding. I already voted yes on E. I thought you were also voting yes on E because you understood that voting no would not do anything to change PUSD the way you want it to change.

"For the most part, people have trouble with the structural problems of giving out raises while they ask us for more money. "

But there are many in the community asking them to do exactly that. They want them to keep step and column and pass a parcel tax. I'm one who has told them that personally.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by checking
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

For me, and many I have spoken with:

Will not support a parcel tax while we are still giving out raises.

Pretty simple.

Voting Yes might make you feel good but also tells the district that business as usual is ok.

I voted NO on Measure G because they were still going to give out raises and am voting NO on Measure E because they are still going to give out raises.

You and I disagree on this.

You feel a parcel tax to pay for raises is what you want (and this tax will not be enough to pay for the raises that will be given out during the term of the parcel tax).

I want a parcel tax that pays for specific programs, and not raises.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by comment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Yes, we disagree.

"another parcel tax on the ballot without addressing the public's concerns. "

Some of the public's concerns. They can't please everyone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Checking

I'm sure if the school board could unilaterally decide to stop giving raises they would. But it's NOT up to school board alone. It's a complex negotiation process with the teachers union. If you stop giving raises now, what about the teachers that have already gotten their raises? It will be unfair for the teachers that are due their 10 year raise this year if all the teachers that reached the 10 year mark last year got their raise. You understand? It's not as simple as you make it out to be.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

No on E people

How many times do you need hear that voting No on E will not stop raises? Do you think the teachers union will say to the school board "Despite the community not wanting to give $98/yr to help their schools, we will come to the aid of the schools and give up thousands of dollars of our pay"? Would you do that? Based on the fact that you're complaining about $98, I presume you wouldn't agree to take a $4000 pay cut. If you would, please tell me who your employer is so I can contact them and have them cut your pay by $4000 and send the money to the schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Brian, you're losing me here. I thought you made some good points a few days ago when you talked about creating a win-win for the community and unions whereby if the community pass the parcel tax and the unions make some concessions we could be OK and it will definitely be a better school year next year that the alternative. I agree with that entirely.

I also believe there are some great reasons to pass measure E - supporting our wonderful teachers and letting them know that the community is behind them does it for me.

But if you're going to start saying things like "taking a $4000 pay cut", you must know you are being misleading. You're also implying that paying $98 is the issue for people, when I'm sure you know it's not. You're dealing with people who are tired of the run-around. There are tons of good reasons to vote yes, but framing the argument the way you are now is not helping.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Curious

I certainly understand the frustration people are feeling seeing teachers get pay raises when the rest of the world is getting pay cuts, but lashing out by voting No on E for that reason alone is only going to hurt the schools and probably everyone's propery value.

I certainly support the idea of reasonable compensation for teachers and it may have gotten somewhat out of hand when times were good. But it is what it is and Pleasanton schools are among the highest ranked in the bay area. We need to keep them that way.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I agree. I also think what rubs some people the wrong way are the exaggerations and misleading language (on both sides). It would be great if we could move forward honestly and with some purposeful direction. And I think you are helping with that with many things you say very convincingly, but the $4000 pay cut stuff heads the wrong way (I think anyhow :))


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Curious

I try to be as precise as possible in my language. You are correct. It was not a $4000 pay cut. It was $4000 worth of unpaid furlough days. However, I doubt any teachers made any money during those furlough days, so their income was likely reduced by $4000.

Of course, it would have been nice to keep those school days. Maybe if we all step up to the plate and vote yes on E, we can convince the teachers that we did our part. Now it's time for them to give us some real concessions next year that won't affect the quality of the education our kids are getting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 14, 2011 at 4:39 pm


Arguing that a "No" vote will not affect salaries misses the point.

E is the public's way of expressing its frustration with the current state of affairs and its desire for positive change via responsible administration.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by comment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Mike,

Many of us are happy with the current state of affairs at PUSD and recognize that it is and excellent school district. We blame the recession for PUSD's financial trouble, and believe that Measure E will help to mitigate that. That is why I voted yes on Measure E.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Brian, it's also over 2 years and the the dollar amount depends on what salary someone is making. It is not the case that every teacher lost $4000 in a year, which gets implied when people throw out that number.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Comment,

The fact that the parcel tax was defeated last time around might suggest a significant degree of dissatisfaction.

However, the point remains the same: a "No" vote is a way for the public to express its dissatisfaction. A "Yes" vote, while providing palliative care to a metastatic problem, undermines the district's motivation to seek a cure.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2011 at 12:44 am

Mike

I wish you could find a better way to express your dissatisfaction than trying to convince people that voting No on E is a good way to express their dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, if E does not pass, the only people who will be affected are the children and property owners. The teachers will still get their raises because they are unionized and the school board will be forced to make up for the budget shortfall by increasing class size, cutting funding for sports, shortening the school year, etc. Undoubtedly this will not only affect the quality of education our children are getting, but rest assured that there will be fewer people interested in paying top dollar for a house in Pleasanton when the API scores start dropping.

Fortunately, if E doesn't pass, I will get some satisfaction knowning that your house will drop in value too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2011 at 8:37 am

I would like some more specifics about THE REST OF US who are taking pay cuts. This seems to be one of the main arguments of the no group. We all took pay cuts so you should too! My fairly large local company did not take a pay cut and in fact gave a COLA this year. None of my friends or neighbors took pay cuts. where is the everybody?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by specifics
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2011 at 10:04 am

Well I'm yes on E but we live in Pleasanton and:

Husband lost job after 15 years for the same company, through no fault of his own, they were downsizing. It took him 6 months and taking a job that pays 70% of what he used to make to get a job and we're happy he has it. Property taxes are a struggle, I know we should probably move, but we're hoping for better times.

Neighbor a few doors down lost tech job, his teen age daughters are going to college in a few years and the whole family so upset. He got something recently thank goodness, but less pay.

Neighbor next door - wife lost job, stay at home now.

Neigbor a few doors down - late 20's adult son returned to live at home, no job.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Foothill High School
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Hart PFA -- $999
Foothill AABC -- $0

Way to go, Foothill, for keeping money donated to the school at the school where parents intend for it to be used.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Duck!
By Tom Cushing | 25 comments | 1,288 views

The Giving Season
By Roz Rogoff | 3 comments | 916 views

Thanksgiving Transfer Fever!
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 483 views