I keep seeing comments on this blog suggesting that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools forces its affluent PTAs or booster clubs to put part of their fund-raising proceeds into a pool for poorer schools.
That's not true.
I've been covering CMS for 10 years and they've never had such a policy. Harold Dixon, current president of the Mecklenburg PTA Council, has been active in such groups for 15 years and says he has never encountered a mandate to redistribute money. CMS says those rumors are false.
CMS does have a SchoolMates program -- thanks to reader Bill Stevens for sharing this link -- that pairs stronger PTAs with weaker ones. That program, which is voluntary, involves sharing volunteers, doing joint activities and helping the less affluent schools develop parent leadership. It's not about a wealthy PTA writing a check to a poorer school.
In a recent comment, Stevens talked about "an aggressive plan that any non urban school PTA that raised money had to submit a portion of it back to CMS for the so called effort of redistributing it to the urban schools."
I'm not sure where that's coming from. The board has had vigorous discussions about per-pupil spending, and I recall that some individual members have suggested pooling PTA and booster club money for equal distribution. I don't have notes and names in front of me, but I can say that it's not uncommon for members to air ideas that don't get much support, and this was one of them. To my knowledge, and in the memory of the folks I checked with, there has never even been a formal motion.
When I asked Davis about the persistent "forced to share the wealth" rumors, he repeated an argument he has made in board talks: Even if you believe it's the right thing to do, it doesn't make sense. A really strong PTA might raise $120,000 a year, enough money to make a difference for an individual school, Davis said. But if you divide it among all schools, it's not even $1 per student.
CMS provides much more significant help to high-poverty schools, which tend to have little or no PTA money, through the federal Title I program and local spending decisions. Forcing parents to put all their PTA money into one pot would generate a lot of ill will while bringing little benefit, Davis said.
"My prediction is people would stop giving," he said.