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PTSA makes several cuts with revised budget

Published January 24, 2014

Having failed to meet fundraising goals, Palo Alto High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association will revise its original budget for the rest of the 2013-2014 school year.

In previous years, the PTSA has raised more than enough money, creating a surplus of funds. However, this year, the PTSA has only raised 80 percent of its proposed budget, according to PTSA President Rebecca Fox. Most members of the PTSA, including Fox, agree that the shortfalls in fundraising are due to the switch to online back-to-school packets.

Fox said that the PTSA will switch back to paper packets next year with an online option.

“We think it just really needs to come through the mail and land in someone’s mailbox,” Fox said. “They’ll have the paper on their desk to look through it.”

The PTSA has made efforts to leave many programs it feels the student, parents, and teachers value, untouched. For example, the Food for Thought program and the money set aside to mail home Paly’s print publications will not be cut, along with money set aside for Science Department supplies. Fox said the budget cuts shouldn’t have a noticeable impact on students.

“We’re trying to do it in a way that doesn’t affect people,” Fox said. “Hopefully [the budget cuts] shouldn’t be too visible to the students, that’s our goal.”

However, there will be some cuts to previously funded programs. While in some places the PTSA has been able to pare back funds, like in the cases of the Sophomore Team Building event and the mailing out of the school directory, where it spent less than it had planned, these incidents do not completely cover the budget shortfalls.

The main programs that will be cut are Technology Support and Viking Fast Track grants. Technology Support provides items such as projectors and cameras to teachers who request them, while Viking Fast Track grants are, according to the PTSA website, given out by a committee to teachers and groups to “enhance the classroom programs and support school-wide goals.”

PTSA Executive Vice President Srinivasan Subramanian, a member of the Fast Track committee, said that this year some grants have already been given out to different projects, including TEDx, Psychology textbooks and junior College Readiness folders.

“The purpose of the PTSA Viking Fast Track grant is to support projects and ideas of students and teachers that require funds beyond what was allocated in the school budget,” Subramanian said. “With the revised budget, the Viking Fast Track grant was reduced by 33 percent. That would make it difficult to fund and support new ideas and projects of students and teachers.”

According to Fox, this year there haven’t been many requests made for grants, which allowed the PTSA to minimize the original budget.

“We’ve just had $2300 requested,” Fox said. “There aren’t a lot of requests coming in, so we’re going to cut it from $15,000 to $10,000. We might cut it back more if we have to.”

The budget cuts have resulted in the funds for technology support dropping from $25,000 to $10,000.

“We’ve just slowed it [technology support] down this year,” Fox said. “But it is going to happen.”

Career Tech Education teacher Pat O’Hara, who is in charge of organizing requests from teachers, said that so far this year there have been no approved requests for technology.

“We are currently considering requests but there have been no actual purchases yet,” O’Hara said. “It is our hope that we will come close to meeting all stated technology needs in coming months with PTSA help.”

The revised budget has been approved by the executive board, and will need approval from the rest of the PTSA at the Jan. 30 board meeting before it becomes official.


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