State PTA conference takes place in Long Beach

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Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

One of the few exhibitors that offer healthy fundraising for public schools at the annual statewide PTA convention in Long Beach.

Money’s a big deal for parent teacher associations. At the annual statewide PTA convention this weekend in Long Beach there’s a lot of talk about budget cuts and Sacramento advocacy. There’s also a lot of talk about how much PTA fundraising at public schools might be too much.

Many of the 183 exhibitors at the PTA convention maintain that the way to a PTA president’s heart is through her stomach.

Anne Marie Randal Trejo, PTA president at Oxford Academy in Cypress, has walked away from the Baskin Robbins booth with another miniature chocolate swirl ice cream cone.

“You can raise, they said, between 15 and 20 percent of the proceeds and what it will do is it will enable teachers to go behind that counter and scoop the ice cream,” she says.

Her PTA raised about $10,000 last year for scholarships and school repair projects. This fundraiser’s a good one, she says, because it’ll get parents, students and teachers to interact.

The busiest convention exhibitors offer cookie, cheesecake, and bagel hot dog fundraisers. Fewer browsers linger at booths like California Fresh Fundraisers, in which kids sell the fresh citrus.

Linda Griess tells a potential client this is a low-calorie fundraiser. Sandy Russell’s PTA in La Crescenta has raised upward of $20,000 a year on candy and treat fundraisers. But she and other parents are trying to get away from that.

“You know we’re finding a big decline in our schools in some of the more traditional fundraisers especially with the candies and chocolates,” she says.

With the money it raises, Russell’s PTA buys musical instruments and pays for school assemblies. The other kind of exhibitor here hawks the content for those assemblies: lessons in art, performance and science.

PTA officials admit that parents’ affluence often leads to fundraising success. The unbearable irony for schools in poor neighborhoods is that they’re especially prone to budget cuts — and it’s hard for their parents to even begin to fundraise the difference.

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