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Austin ISD Won't Let PTAs Pay For Staff Salaries Anymore

Gabriel C. Pérez

The Austin Independent School District is no longer allowing school PTAs to pay for staff salaries.

The district said it's outlawing the practice because it creates inequities between schools with a parent base to raise a lot of money and those without one.

Twelve schools are using PTA funds this year to cover salaries. The money primarily is going toward support staff — including library clerks, tutors and lunch monitors — but funds are also paying for specialists.

“We respectfully request that all campus leaders adhere to the new staffing guidelines so that we can align our practices with our values, and we can begin to see equitable outcomes across our campuses that we all desire,” the district wrote in a letter sent to school principals at the beginning of May.

“While it may be appealing to seek additional funds from community or school support organizations to maintain the status quo, that practice does not align with our district values,” the letter said.

It's the district’s job to pay for staff salaries, not a PTA’s, AISD spokesperson Jason Stanford said.

“Any school in Austin ISD that has the data to show that they need a position, we’ll fund it,” he said. “For too long we’ve been relying on PTAs to do this. Now we have [12] schools, all elementary schools, in Austin ISD that have PTA-funded positions, and this has created an inequitable situation.

The 12 schools with at least one PTA-funded position are: Baranoff, Blanton, Casis, Davis, Doss, Gullett, Highland Park, Hill, Lee, Mathews, Pleasant Hill and Summitt elementary schools. Next year, schools will have to pay for these positions with district money if they want to keep them.

All of these schools except Pleasant Hill serve students from affluent families.

A 2012 report from the Texas Civil Rights Project stated the practice creates lesser educational experiences for minority and low-income students. The report suggested the district create a foundation to pool outside funding, rather than keeping money at specific schools.

This new policy applies only to PTA-funded staff positions. PTAs can still fundraise for supplies, field trips, staff appreciation and other projects.

Claire McInerny is a former education reporter for KUT.
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