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PTAs Are Not Revenue Source to Be Exploited by Cash-Strapped Districts

April 11, 1993

Karen Peterson is right ("PTAs Current Affair," March 31). Without PTAs' financial support, children are not going to have enrichment programs in the public schools.

What is increasingly alarming, however, is that PTAs are now being assumed as an integral revenue source for school districts' budgets.

Once coalesced to provide discretionary services, PTAs are increasingly becoming viewed as the path of last resistance to fund school sites while commensurate spending cuts do not seem to be occurring at the district level.

District budgets are intricately woven with many funding sources, and PTAs often are not given the opportunity to "see under all the shells" before making purchasing decisions.

Perhaps officials would do well to remember that they work for us, not the other way around.

Three years ago, our local Irvine PTA began subsidizing salaries at the school site. In a classic "give them an inch" scenario, the district seemed to view this as a green light for future funding.

Most recently, our art and music teachers have been sent out with their tin cups for next year in a demeaning notification of the crisis in spending decisions.

We continually hear of the "budget crisis" but must not fall into the trap of basic subsidization of curricula for which we pay taxes.

Every year, school purchasers (taxpayers) are being given an increasingly "stripped-down model," and the PTA is being viewed as the means to get not the bells and whistles but rather the very engine itself. A dangerous precedent has been set, and we are left to wonder how much will be enough.

Our children are at school to learn, not earn. The public school system must learn to live within its means. Times are tough all over, not just for school districts, but parents as well.

While district officials keep insisting that there is no fat at the administrative level, everything is relative, and the school site is anorexic by comparison. PTAs should not be used as the additional tax-collecting henchmen.

CAROLYN McINERNEY

Irvine

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