Arlington seeks to reduce inequities in PTA spending across county

Any parent with a child in school knows how important a Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) can be in improving the education experience for a youngster.

Typically, a PTA will raise money for things outside the school system’s budget, such as building or upgrading a school’s playground, or buying more comfortable seating for students.

However, in Arlington — a county with wide racial and economic differences between North and South Arlington — there are major discrepancies between what different school PTAs raise in a year.

This has prompted the establishment of an ongoing grant fund, with the goal of providing “greater equality and equity in academic experiences and opportunities across schools by enabling those PTAs with sufficient funds to help those schools lacking financial resources.”

The Arlington County Council of PTAs Grant Fund allows schools to apply for assistance in paying for things including field trips, literacy initiatives and outdoor learning areas.

According to the organization, Arlington County Public School students are 53% students of color, 30% economically disadvantaged, 18% English language learners and 18% students with disabilities.

While some schools — particularly in North Arlington, where housing prices are considerably higher — have parents who can both organize and contribute to maximizing fundraising, other schools have had a greater challenge raising money to improve the local school experience.

In recent years, some schools in South Arlington raised $30,000, while some in North Arlington were able to raise $125,000. PTA expenditures ranged from $18,000 to $139,000 — a nearly eightfold differential, ARLNow reported.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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