2016-2017 Back to School Request FAQ

Questions about the 2016-2017 Back to School Request? Click on one of the Frequently Asked Questions below.

request faq

Who do I make my check out to?

Please make your check or money order payable to “SES PTSA.”  All funds will be collected by PTSA and distributed as described here. You may also pay monthly using the PPS direct deposit form. Or you may pay by credit card via this website.

If you have a specific question about your donation, please contact PTSA Treasurer Ryan Manner at:  jqrm@comcast.net.

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Who is making this request for donations?

This is a joint request made by the Sunnyside Environmental School (SES) administration and the SES PTSA (the parent teacher association). Your donations support the programs that make SES a special place.

First line item: Contributions made under the first line of the request form for “SES PTSA Program Support” will go to the SES PTSA general fund (see description below).

The PTSA has agreed to make a grant of a percentage of these contributions to an SES school account called the “student body account” (see description below), which the SES principal administers. Together, these two funds pay for different programs at SES.  Both are important to the continued support of SES programs.

In the past, parents in the SES community received two donation requests at the beginning of the school year, one request from PTSA known most recently as “Live Green, Give Green” and a separate request from the SES principal known as the “Grateful Request” to help fund the student body account.

To avoid the confusion of two requests, PTSA and SES Principal Amy Kleiner, have agreed to collaborate with this combined request for donations with 50% going to the student body account and 50% going to the general PTSA budget. The hope is that a joint request will ensure fundraising efforts to support the same school will not be in competition and that the community clearly understands how all funds are used.

Second line item: Contributions made under the second line of the request for “PPS Foundation” will be transferred to the SES account within the PPS Foundation.  The Foundation is an organization separate from both the school and the SES PTSA, and donations to the Foundation are used in accordance with the Foundation’s rules and guidelines.  Using money from the Foundation is the preferred way to pay for extra staffing at schools within the PPS system. (See description of the PPS Foundation below).

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How will the donations going to student the body account be used?

The student body account is an account set up by Portland Public Schools to be used and administered by the SES Principal. In the past, funds from this account pay for items such as SES teaching supplies and extras not currently budgeted by Portland Public Schools including bus tickets, art supplies, PE supplies, science lab supplies, overnight trip expenses, literacy/books, library upkeep, and community meals.

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What is the PTSA and why is it asking for money?

SES PTSA stands for “Sunnyside Environmental School Parent Teacher Student Association,” which is sometimes called PTSA or PTA for short.

PTSA is the all-volunteer organization comprised mostly of parents and teachers that serves two main functions at SES:  (1) to coordinate volunteers for SES programs and activities, and (2) to fundraise and provide funding for SES programs and activities.

Among other things, PTSA volunteers maintain this website, which is usually a reliable source for finding out what is going on at SES: www.sesptsa.org.  PTSA volunteers publish the SES Weekly Messenger email and coordinate room parents.  They organize annual events like the Harvest Faire and fundraisers like the Read-A-Thon and the Taste of Sunnyside.

However, no fundraiser is more important than this request for donations at the beginning of the school year.  Receiving direct donations at the beginning of the year helps the PTSA to plan its budget and set goals. Other fundraisers are necessary because not everyone is able to give at the requested levels.

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Are the donations tax-deductible?

Your donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of permitted by law. SES PTSA is a 503(c) (3) charitable organization and is also incorporated as an Oregon nonprofit corporation (Tax I.D. number 93-1208359). The chartered name of SES PTSA organization is actually PTA Oregon Congress Sunnyside Environmental PTA but we prefer to use the much simpler SES PTSA or just PTA.  The mailing address for SES PTSA is 3421 SE Salmon St. Portland, OR 97214.

The school itself is, of course, a nonprofit educational institution and the PPS Foundation is a charitable organization.  Because the rules concerning charitable contribution deductions can change or may be complicated, you should always consult with your tax advisor about the deductibility of any particular charitable contribution.

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How does the PTSA spend the funds it raises?

The PTSA’s current budget can be found elsewhere on this website: http://www.sesptsa.org/fundraising/2013-2014-ses-ptsa-budget. Each year the PTSA asks teachers, school administration, SES site council, parents and other interested parties at SES for input on its budget for the following year.  The PTSA Board initially proposes and votes on this budget, and then submits it to the entire PTSA membership for approval during the spring PTSA member meeting, which usually occurs in May.  PTSA is always looking for additional input from the SES community on its budget priorities.  Your ideas and comments are important to us!

PTSA uses its funds to pay for many of the extra programs, activities and enrichment that students receive at SES — most of these are not funded by Portland Public Schools.

For the past several years, the largest item in the PTSA budget has been for the Sustainability Team, which works with teachers and students at every grade level.  Some of the larger categories in the PTSA budget include the funding of music education, art programs and overnight scholarships for SES students.

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Can the PTSA fund teacher salaries?

Generally, the PTSA does not fund the salaries of Portland Public School teachers, administration and staff.  Portland Public Schools has a separate fundraising organization — the PPS Foundation — that is used to augment state funding of school district employees.  Every Portland Public School has an account with the Foundation.

On rare occasions, particularly during times of budget shortfalls, PTSA has made grants to the SES account with the Foundation to help fund gaps in PPS staffing.

In the past, the SES community has not undertaken a significant fundraising effort to raise funds for the Foundation account. We expect that to change this year. PTSA has included a separate line for Foundation donations to help jump start a new fundraising effort for SES’ account with the PPS Foundation.

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How does the PPS Foundation donation work?

As noted, there is a separate line in this donation request for donations to the PPS Foundation.  The Foundation is an organization separate from PTSA. Foundation money may be used to pay for PPS teachers and staff salaries.  Each PPS school has a Foundation account.  The first $10,000 that a school raises in Foundation money every year is retained in that account.

Beyond that, the school keeps 70 percent of whatever it raises and 30 percent goes to help support other PPS schools in need.  Foundation donations are tax-deductible and will be treated separately from the other donations you make on this form.

You can also make donations directly to the Foundation.  For more detailed information about the PPS Foundation, please refer to the Foundation’s website:  http://www.allhandsraised.org/. To help with our SES Foundation, please contact Ricardo Ismach at rick@ismach.org.

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How is the suggested donation calculated?

The Back to School request helps support the sustainability program and art enrichment as well as program supplies for classrooms and Go Fund scholarships to make sure all students attend their grade-level overnight trips. The amount requested each year is determined by calculating roughly what all of our fundraising needs are to support our great school programs each year and then dividing that by the number of students enrolled at SES. Think of it as the estimated costs to fund SES programs other than the basics provided by Portland Public Schools.  These programs make SES a special school.

Please give as you are able and know that there will be fundraisers and classroom asks big and small throughout the year to support all of our students, classrooms and grades. Your donations pay for important programs unique to Sunnyside. It takes all of us to make Sunnyside a special school.

Because the PTSA and the school have never received 100 percent participation in this donation request, we plan to conduct several other fundraisers during the year to cover the budget (the Read-a-thon; the Run/Walk and several other smaller fundraisers).  Also, your student’s teacher or room parent may request additional funds for field trips or other activities, which are not included in the “program support” estimate…they fall under estimated classroom costs on the bottom of the printed request form.

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What about those numbers on the estimated classroom costs at the bottom of the page?

Even if you give all you can on this form, you can expect some additional fundraising for class-related expenses to be conducted in individual classes. Teachers or room parents will ask for these additional donations to cover the costs of field studies, overnights and class projects. These numbers are just a rough estimate.

Beginning in 5th grade, your student will participate in overnight trips. As they age, the trips will get longer and have a corresponding increase in price. These trips are an important part of our curriculum and we want all families to participate! We provide the cost estimates in fall so you know as soon as possible and can begin budgeting right away. When the trip costs are finalized, the school will contact you to arrange payment.

If you are on free and reduced lunch, PTSA provides scholarships to cover half the trip costs. If you need additional assistance, ask the front office about the GO Fund. We want all our families to participate in our overnights; your personal economic situation should not hold you back.

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How can I get involved?

Volunteerism and public service are core values at SES. The kids call it Service Learning and it teaches them new skills, introduces them to new communities & friends and enlarges their hearts and their notions of what is possible in the world. We believe that parents and other members of the SES community set a good example for SES students through their own service learning.

The PTSA is always looking for volunteers for SES events, to become room parents, to serve on the PTSA Board, to join Site Council or the Parent Equity group, to help with the Foundation, and in many other roles at SES.  PTSA puts out a volunteer survey that it uses to create a database of potential volunteers.

Also, we want your input!  All PTSA meetings, including board meetings, are open to anyone interested in attending and anyone may participate.  PTSA encourages you to become a member of the PTSA for a $10.50 donation.  Members may vote on any matter put before the membership including the annual budget and election of PTSA board members.

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Is PTSA part of a larger organization?

Yes.  Our PTSA is chartered by Oregon PTA, which is a separate educational advocacy organization.  Here is their website:  http://www.oregonpta.org/

Much of the $10.50 PTSA dues go to help fund Oregon PTA.  In addition to advocating for Oregon schools, Oregon PTA provides training and support for SES PTSA volunteers.  The Oregon PTA also provides liability insurance for PTSA-sponsored activities at SES.  This behind-the-scenes support helps make many SES events possible.

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