The Dallas Morning News

PTAs rake in money

Groups at least needy schools among wealthiest in U.S.

- By ELVIA LIMÓN Staff Writer elimon@dallasnews.com

Highland Park High School’s parent-teacher associatio­n ranked as the wealthiest in the nation, though it is one of the least needy schools, according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress.

The study by the liberal advocacy group analyzed school PTA tax returns from 2013 and student demographi­cs. It found that wealthier PTAs in the nation are often linked to schools with the lowest number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches, adding to the divide between rich and poor public schools.

Highland Park High School reported to have collected more than $2 million in the 2013-14 school year, though none of its students qualified for free or reduced lunch. PTA groups for Highland Park ISD’s four elementary schools — Hyer, University Park, Armstrong and Bradfield — also ranked among the top 20 wealthiest PTAs.

The only HPISD school not listed in the survey was Highland Park Middle School, which raised $2.216 million during the 2013-14 school year, records show. It was not immediatel­y clear why the school was not included in the survey.

Both Hyer and University Park raised more than $1.4 million, and Armstrong raised more than $1.1 million. Bradfield collected the least amount from all of the elementary schools at $920,767.

“The HPISD elementary PTAs raise money for teacher salaries and other needs at their campuses, such as technology upgrades, library books, in-

structiona­l materials and more,” said district spokesman David Hicks.

The study also found schools that collect 10 percent of the estimated $425 million that PTAs raise nationwide each year represent one-tenth of 1 percent of all students in the U.S.

Hicks said HPISD relies on fundraisin­g to fill the gap created by Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code, also known as the “Robin Hood” plan, in which the school finance system takes funds from propertywe­althy districts and distribute­s them to property-poor districts.

In 2016, the Texas Education Agency recorded HPISD’s total recapture as more than $82 million.

Hicks said the district also relies on funds raised through the Highland Park Education Foundation’s annual giving campaign, Mad for Plaid.

The donations to Mad for Plaid are used for a variety of projects throughout all of the HPISD campuses, including staff developmen­t and funding teacher salaries, he said.

“Mad for Plaid also helps support technology replacemen­ts and other teacher needs at the high school,” Hicks said. “This public-private partnershi­p is vital to Highland Park ISD, and the district is very grateful for the support it receives from parents, community members and other organizati­ons.”

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