I ran into another Claremont parent recently and she asked me a good question. Her family donates every year to her schools’ annual funds and she wondered about her giving during this school-from-home Covid year. She said she could give more but was waiting to see how things were going this year. She was curious — how is the money being used this year? Does the school need as much money as in past years?

These are great questions so I wanted to share what we’re seeing. The quick answer: while some categories of spending have shifted, based on the needs of the school the PTA is investing the same amount of money as in past years.

  • The need for school supplies has gone down, however this year the need for tech assistance grew significantly. For example, the PTA has invested thousands of dollars in educational software such as Code Combat for computer science and Manga High to help kids hone their math skills. We’ve also funded smaller but still important tech needs such as noise-canceling headphones for teachers.

  • The PTA continues to fund Claremont-committed substitute teachers who know the school, the curriculum, and students. In past years they’ve been available to jump in at a moment’s notice when teachers are out sick. This year they have shifted most of their efforts to providing critical reading support and intervention.

  • We continue to contribute to the funding of staff positions. In this area there is one small bit of upside – having no kids on campus means there are no arguments, squabbles, and class disruptions. C’mon you remember middle school, don’t you? 😊 Kids are missing out on a middle school rite of passage — “getting sent to the office.” This frees up some time for the deans and Mr. Doubley — instead of handling behavior issues, they are facilitating meetings to discuss online learning improvements and helping teachers whenever needed. More importantly, they are proactively making numerous calls to parents of kids who are struggling in this online environment and working out specific plans for each family to ensure the kids remain engaged.

The other side of the equation is PTA fundraising. Currently, total fundraising is behind previous years. Every year the biggest fundraising event for the school is the auction. Given that 1) we moved from an in-person to an online auction and 2) the local small businesses that typically donate to the auction were really struggling this year, I considered the $46,000 that we raised a huge success (thank you all!). However, to put this challenging year in perspective, last year’s auction was able to raise far more – $78,000.

So, the PTA is currently contributing the same amount as in previous years, even though our fundraising is behind previous years. We’ve made up the difference up until now by dipping into reserve PTA funds. I’m thankful to the prescient members of previous PTA boards who created a rainy-day fund for occasions just like this. I’m not sure that they were predicting a global pandemic but they definitely had the right idea.

We hope to replace the reserve funds this year to keep the PTA strong for future years. We’re currently at $96,500 in annual fund contributions, exceeding the $93,000 raised last year. (Thank you for all these generous donations!)  To make up at least part of the shortfall from the lack of events this year, we are working to raise a total of $110,000 or more from the Annual Fund. Due to the cancelation of our in-person fundraising events, this additional amount still won’t bring us to last year’s total fundraising amount but it will help quite a bit.

If you haven’t given yet, have forgotten, or would like to give more to help reach our goal,  you can still give to the annual fund here.

By the way, even if you do not itemize deductions you may still take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made in 2020. And if your company does a corporate match, there are still two weeks left to make sure you don’t lose out on your 2020 benefit!

Thank you so much to all of those families who have given large and small amounts to the PTA. As you’ve read here, the money is going to the areas that need it most. These generous contributions continue to make Claremont a school that we’re proud of. I’m thankful to be a part of this special community.

Dan Clifford
Claremont PTA President