by Kyle Spencer
EACH fall, parents at the Anderson School, a highly regarded K-8 on the Upper West Side for gifted and talented students, receive letters from the PTA emblazoned with the school’s elegant “A” logo. Though Anderson indulges in the usual trappings of public-school fund-raising — bake sales, book fairs, auctions — this letter is blunter: It urges parents to simply write a check. And it suggests an amount: This school year, it was $1,300.
Ayda Gibson, 44, the mother of a first grader at the school, said she did not mind being asked.
“If they don’t ask,” she said, “they won’t get.”
Many parents, it would seem, agree with her. In the 2009-10 school year, Anderson’s PTA and a much smaller alumni group raised $1,001,302, putting the school in a remarkable category — the New York City public schools that raise amounts in the $1 million range annually.
They are schools like Public School 6 on East 82nd Street, where big donors can have their children’s names engraved on plaques on chairs in the auditorium. Its PTA raised $973,518 last school year. Or P.S. 290, also on East 82nd, a popular school widely praised for its writing program, where the PTA raised $949,759 in the 2009-10 school year.
Or P.S. 87, a coveted Upper West Side elementary a stone’s throw from the Museum of Natural History, where the parents’ association brought in $1.57 million in that same period: about $800,000 in fund-raising, the other $700,000 from the fees the association charged for the after-school programs.
At a time when the city’s schools have had their financing cut by an average of 13.7 percent over the past five years, the money has buffered these schools from the hard choices many others have had to make. In a system where many parents’ associations raise no money at all, these schools have earned a special name among parents and school consultants: “public privates.”
“Many now have amenities that can compete with private school offerings,” said Emily Glickman, the president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting, a private-school admissions company, on the Upper East Side.
These schools are in some of the city’s wealthiest ZIP codes, most of them in Manhattan, and their students typically garner top scores on statewide exams. (In 2011, at P. S. 290, 88.9 percent of students were proficient in reading, and 92.9 percent demonstrated proficiency in math. The citywide averages for the subjects were 43.9 percent and 57.3 percent.)
And in a system where money and race are inextricably intertwined, most of these schools serve populations with a far greater percentage of white students than the system over all, where about 15 percent of the students are white. P. S. 6, for example, is 70 percent white, as is P.S. 234, a school in TriBeCa that also raises hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The city’s Education Department does not track how much individual PTAs raise. There is no central clearinghouse for this information, and parents are often reluctant to publicly share fund-raising numbers. To put together a list of the top-earning PTAs, The New York Times analyzed Internal Revenue Service filings posted on GuideStar, a research company that tracks nonprofit organizations and charitable giving. The information is not comprehensive, so there may be other schools that raised similar amounts that were not included. But it presents a snapshot of how some of the richest schools have fared.
“These rich schools are semiprivate,” said Troy Torrison, 47, a creative director who has a third grader at P. S. 234, which raised $541,712 in the 2009-10 school year. The Taste of TriBeCa, a culinary festival with many of the neighborhood’s best-known chefs participating, provided a substantial amount. “These other schools are public, public with no extras,” he said.
Read the full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/nyregion/at-wealthy-schools-ptas-help-...