The Hawaii state Legislature allocated $1.74 billion to the Department of Education for the 2012 fiscal year, which may sound a lot, but is about $16 million less than allocated for fiscal year 2011. Meanwhile, the state’s total education expenses went up $74 million, because of rising employee benefit costs and debt service. This doesn’t even include the additional cut of $20 million from the department’s transportation budget because of concerns over school bus prices that have doubled in the last six years. (wwwcivilbeat.com)
This shrinking financial situation does not bode well for our public school students. Our schools have always sought different avenues to raise revenue for their school programs, which is where the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) comes in.
The PTA is a national non-profit organization. Everyone who joins must pay an enrollment fee of $10, which then allows them to become a member of both the sate and national PTA. Numbers however have dwindled since the booming 1960’s. In 2012 membership was down to below 5.2 million. “The overall purpose of the PTA is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.” (www.PTA.org). Unfortunately, with rampant budget cuts fundraising has become more of a focus for the PTA. This ability to fund raise makes a huge difference to the school your child attends and the opportunities/curriculum your child is receiving.
The Haiku School PTA is a great example of a successful PTA and what a difference this can make to a school and more importantly the students. According to Principal Bernice Takahata of Haiku School, her school received only $4,373.09 per child from state funds for this school year. For all the extra curriculum activities (outside of the 3 R’s) such as physical education, art, music, drama, creative movement, science, technology programs, garden programs, and field trips, equipment and classroom supplies (that are not covered by the budget) etc…, they rely on grants and PTA fund raising. Last year the Haiku School PTA raised a little over $75,000 through grants and fundraising! $45,000 alone, was raised during the Haiku Ho’olaulea’a and Flower Festival. It is by far the most successful way this PTA raises funds for their keiki.
“The Ha’iku Ho’olaule’a and Flower Festival was started in 1993, as the dream of two highly spirited Haiku residents – Ed Silverstein and Mike Gagne, members of Haiku Community Association. They envisioned it as a way to define Haiku as a destination and to showcase its wealth of history, culture and community. The Haiku School PTA, gladly received a total of $700 at the end of that first festival.” Jen Oberg Haiku School Parent Community Networking Coordinator (PCNC).
20 years later the Ha’iku Ho’olaule’a and Flower Festival has become, in part, a well run fundraiser for the Haiku School children, changing their lives by enriching their education experience and the opportunities they are given. With this year’s 20th anniversary it will be even bigger with a three day extravaganza starting April 20th with The Flower Festival itself. The more people who attend, sponsor and sell their crafts and services at the event the more money the Haiku School PTA can raise for the students at Haiku School. Admission has always been Free. Last year there were over 7,000 in attendance and they are hoping to attract even more this year.
If you would like to help your student’s school and become a member of the PTA – it really makes a difference – contact your School’s PTA president. It is a great way to get involved and meet other parents. If you are not a parent but would like to get involved with the Haiku Ho’olaule’a and Flower Festival, to support the PTA’s fund raising efforts for Haiku School, please go to www.haikuhoolaulea.org for more details. It takes a community!
Thank-you to the PTA’s and PTO’s (Parent Teacher Organizations) across Maui. We are very grateful for all you do!
Image Credit: Haiku Ho'oaule'a & Flower Festival