UPDATE: PTA Head Says School District Is Undermining Fundraiser

The president of Mayflower's PTA said the district won't allow her organization to promote a fundraiser through official channels because the fundraiser encourages people to shop outside of Monrovia.

A local PTA president said in a letter Monday that she is "extremely upset" that a fundraiser for local schools was removed from official district communications because the donation drive benefited businesses outside city limits.

Kim Petulla, president of the PTA and board member at PTSA, said she will read her letter of protest at a school board meeting Monday night. In the letter, she asserts that her organization's fundraiser was removed from school marquees and morning announcements because it was tied to Westfield mall in Arcadia instead of local Monrovia businesses.

"It is naive of this Board to expect the PTA’s and PTSA’s in our district to only fundraise within our city limits," Petulla wrote.

The issue came up after newly elected Board Member Rob Hammond noticed a message promoting the Westfield contest on Clifton's marquee, he said in an interview.

"...It seemed to be counterproductive for us to encourage people to go spend their money in Arcadia and I didn’t think that it was perhaps good to send people to go shop someplace else and deny our community the dollars that we use for all the goods and services we have," Hammond said.

Hammond, who owns in Old Town, said he called Superintendent Linda Wagner to ask that she draft a policy governing how promotions are handled in official school communications, but insisted that he never directed the district to remove the fundraiser from its marquees and announcements.

"To my knowledge there was nothing that was done that discouraged or denied any fundraiser that was going on at the time," Hammond said.

In an email to Patch, Wagner said there is no policy in place that bars fundraising through businesses throughout the city.

"At the present time, there is no policy in place that prohibits schools from using fundraising agencies, such as restaurants, malls and vendors located outside the city of Monrovia," Wagner wrote.

Wagner did not address whether the district removed the Westfield fundraiser information from its communications but said the issue of marquee communications would be considered at a future board meeting.

"The date of this discussion is not yet set, however there is board interest in this topic," she wrote.

Petulla said the Mayflower PTA raises about $80,000 per year for local schools. There is no way her organization could raise that amount of money without looking outside the city in addition to local fundraising efforts, she wrote.

"I support merchants in Monrovia first and foremost," Petulla wrote. "But when I need soccer cleats, the clothing from shops my teenage girls want, or the perfume only Macy’s carries – I shop outside of Monrovia…as do all of you. I also reach out to the Monrovia Merchants when fundraising, as all 10 of our schools do and I will tell you with the exception of a few, I hear the same message, 'We would love to help you more, but there are so many requests, we can’t possibly contribute to all of them.'"

Board member Alex Zucco wrote in an email that she would be against any promotion policy that stifles school fundraising efforts.

"As a former PTA President and Ways and Means Chair for Mayflower and Clifton, I would not support any measure to be put in place to limit their ability to fundraise, within our city limits and beyond," Zucco wrote. "These organizations are taxed with a huge burden of filling in the financial gap for our schools needs and we shouldn’t set arbitrary barriers in their way."

Hammond said he encouraged community members to weigh in on the topic, adding that he expects to hear more from parents and students when the board considers the policy.

"We need to have a whole conversation about this," he said.

Stay tuned for coverage of the school board meeting tonight for more on this story.

Meg Walker January 24, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I think it has been shown that we Monrovians support the local merchants as much as possible, as do they support the schools. The main issue here is that a school board member that owns a business in Monrovia felt he had the right to make a phone call and have the advertisement for a fundraiser removed from Clifton's marquee. It is a conflict of interest, and a misuse of any power he might think he has.
Holly Hale January 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM
"A board member" called and had the info removed from the Marquee? Excuse me? "A board member" should not be making such a call but the top dog. And on the subject of board members: Are you all aware of how low the voter turn out was this last time? Personally, I am horrified that there was so little interest in who would be governing the district. I just bet the people who whine and complaint the loudest couldn't spare 15 minutes to go vote. It starts here, you know. Grassroots.......up the ladder to the top. Apathy is why this country is in such a mess today.
Holly Hale January 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM
oops, complain
Meg Walker January 24, 2012 at 10:38 PM
To clarify...Rob Hammond did call the superintendent who then made the call to the school.
Erin Thorn January 25, 2012 at 12:23 AM
And those who voted on candidates based on either name recognition or where their children went to school were the problem in the last election. The best candidate among the non-incumbants was David Crabtree who got very little of the votes. Apathy and uninformed voters are becoming a huge problem. People just don't care to do even the most minimal investigation. They'd rather sit back, listen to the ads, read the propaganda sent by their party/union/club, etc. and play eenie-meenie-minie-moe. That or they don't vote at all.
Karen Lujan January 25, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Why don't we just get the School District talking with the Chamber of Commerce and the Old Town Association to work something out. Maybe they can work out a deal where if a customer mentions a school that a small portion of the sale will go to the school. That would be a win-win for the schools and the merchants as people will be more likely to shop locally if they knew an additional portion (other than taxes) of the proceeds would go to the school of their choice (or our schools in general) and the schools will get more consistent income year-round from local vendors. I think all this fighting over the sign is silly. I don't think anyone is saying not to allow anyone to shop outside of Monrovia but if I was a small business owners (which I am not) that competed with some of the stores in the mall. I would be a bit peeved that Clifton is telling everyone to go shop there instead of at my store when they haven't even tried to ask me if I could work out a similar deal. Just my 2 cents.
Kim Petulla January 25, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Again. It's not just about the marquee. It is about mr. Hammond wanting the board to have a say in what fundraisers the school participate. If the board wants a say, they can do the fundraising. Comparing Monrovia businesses and Westfield is not apples to apples.
jake January 25, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Everybody is off the subject as usual. Classic patch always changing the direction of topic. Mr. Hammond had no right or reason for what he did.
jake January 25, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Karen, but you don't understand the argument, listen to Kim
Melanie Ward January 25, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Kim...I think you're brilliant, assuming the fundraiser is still going to proceed. Nothing like a little bit of controversy to generate publicity for your cause. Much more than you would get from the Clifton Marquis. (I was Clifton PTA Prez when we bought that Marquis so I know it's value. But it's reach is limited. Please post when the fundraiser is happening so we can all participate. I'm sure we will purchase something we can't find in Monrovia:) Best of Luck!
Jill Ramirez January 25, 2012 at 03:52 AM
For anyone like Kim that has been actively involved in the PTA's sports, bands, scouts ect.. you know that once you child enters Middle School or High School you have pretty much done every fundraiser your family could do. How many times do you leave soccer practice early to make it to Chili's for munching night? Or realize your child didn't do an assignment because you as a PTA member stayed at Mc Donalds too long volunteering your time on Mc Teacher night? How about the the gallons of cookie dough or $20 peanuts you buy? We all have done it, why? Because we want to give back to our schools. We want our kids to have all the opportunities we had. The bottom line still is this is about the kids, the schools. This is not about the businesses. Sorry Tom, I know as a City Council member, to you this is, but to us, the parents it is about our kids. I applaud all the "Outside of the box" ideas. In fact as a PTA parent I too attended the state convention looking for that "GREAT" new, different idea.. We all do!! So instead of making this a battle, how about saying kudos to the PTA's/PTSA's for keeping Arts, field trips, school supplies, assemblies, and all the extra curricular activities that would have other wise been cut due to the budget.
Holly Hale January 25, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Jake, It's not Patch's fault people get off the subject. It's the people who are writing. It's an open forum so if folks want to get onto other topics, they are welcome to do so. As for your comment about Rob, I think we all agree. I had an idea on my way home today. Since the principles call weekly with school info, why can't they include the fundraisers in the messages? They're making the calls anyway. What could it hurt?
Ellen Zunino January 25, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Bottom line: Money is tight. Our schools need money. They should be able to get it wherever they can find it and take it from whomever is willing to give it. To turn a simple thing like school fundraising into a bloody battle pitting civic pride (and sales tax revenues) against school needs is inane. Unless the school board and the city council is willing to ante up the dollars the fundraiser would lose by not participating in the mall contest, they should bow out of the discussion.
Jeanine Thomas Scott January 25, 2012 at 05:48 AM
Holly, Clifton's principal is already using the robo-call system but that only reaches Clifton's families and not the community at large.
mark h. January 25, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Perhaps, Mr. Hammond (who owns a business in Monrovia that will benefit from his actions) should consult with the district's lawyers to see if his actions constitute a conflict of interest.
Tom Adams January 25, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Mark, I can tell you that Hammond will not benefit from this at all, his business is very secure. In fact, Hammand has donated tens of thousands of dollars to our shcools over the years, not because his business benefits but because he believes that the future of our children is the most important thing we can focus on. Hammond has a bright financial mind and simply thinks we can do better than direct Monrovia shoppers into Arcadia. I think if we focus the conversation on this and not on the person we may be able to come up with a direction that truly helps our schools, or we can stand for the status quo.
Jill Ramirez January 25, 2012 at 04:46 PM
With all respect Tom, what status quo? This conversation was started, and continues to be about PTA's ability to advertise fundraising efforts at the school sites. As PTA's, we are raising money for our schools, for our kids. Each PTA/PTSA/Boosters ect.. volunteer their time effortlessly to raise upwards to $80,000 at each school site. Again, let's just say thank you for all you do.
Jill Ramirez January 25, 2012 at 05:51 PM
In addition, with respect to Mr. Hammond, he has to take some liability and attacks against him in this argument. As is, he was the one that initiated this discussion and the removal of the information on the marque.. In fact, at the board meeting (which I attended) he said, "Please understand when I saw the sign it was in the 4th quarter, and in retail the 4th quarter is very important".
Kim Petulla January 25, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Thank you everyone for your support. I knew in my heart that this was not just me feeling this was completely unreasonable. Westfield is back on the marquee until there has been a policy set in place by the board. I hope this will be the end. The board has been invited to the Monrovia PTA council meeting on Feb. 7 to have a discussion regarding fundraising. I am confident at that time we can come together and unite. United we Fall, Together we Stand? I think I heard that somewhere. The board will then have a discussion and hopefully come to a decision on whether or not there should be a board policy regarding fundraising. Again, thank you everyone. Together we are a strong voice. I will keep you posted.
Jeanine Thomas Scott January 25, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Thank you, Kim, for standing up on behalf of all of us whose kids benefit from the fundraising that goes on in every club and organization in every school in town.
Chris Ziegler January 25, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Tom, I thank you communicating with the public, unlike your colleagues, but is it really appropriate for you to answer for Rob? Would you kindly encourage Rob to speak for himself and expand on his claims (Preferably providing realistic numbers to back his claims etc) and help us understand his proposed policy? Otherwise, we are left to our own imaginations...and that's often not good. I just spoke with a parent today that was talking about a recall, my guess is that is not what Rob wants to spend his energy dealing with. Secondly, do you have expansion/examples on your comments as to, 'how we work together'? Can you detail some of your ideas? Thanks!
Holly January 25, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Tom, Rob and others who are against this fundraiser, Nobody is asking parents to shop at the Westfield shopping center over Monrovia businesses. Nobody is "directing" business out of Monrovia. The mall has stores that Monrovia does not offer and most of us are forced there, whether we like it or not. We are encouraged to turn in our receipts for credit when we do shop there. Is there a store in town that sell Tom's shoes? Is there a store that sells sporting goods? How about Hollister or Aeropastle? If you have a middle schooler or high schooler, you ARE shopping at these stores. What is wrong with our schools benefiting from that? Tom and Rob, what would you be willing to donate to Bradoaks silent auction in April? We will be sure to drop off a letter.
lynne palmer January 25, 2012 at 07:29 PM
It seems to me what most of the Monrovians are saying is that the status quo (PTA raising huge amounts of much-needed money for our schools in a time of drastic cuts to education) IS WORKING. Has been working. And will continue to work for the benefit of our community, but most of all for our children. What is needed here is to let it work.
Erin Thorn January 25, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Exactly! If we have a board policy on this we are headed down a very dangerous path. More and more I see the district office, the city of Monrovia or the state, imposing new rules or taking control of things like this that used to be handled at the school sites, at the discretion of the principal. We can' t charge fees, we can't cook food without a license, we can't go door to door "peddling" things and now we can't advertise fundraisers outside of city limits. These policies are tying the hands of those wishing to raise the funding needed to provide a well rounded education, with all the activities that entails, for our students.
punkster January 25, 2012 at 11:13 PM
I am so glad that was some relenting.........One always, always needs to keep their Fund Raising base as wide as can be......... Many people are happy to help the schools even with out students in them, because it is a "GOOD THING"!
Gayle M. Montgomery January 26, 2012 at 06:42 PM
At the risk of seeming self-aggrandizing, maybe we can solve some of the fundraising issues by using the website I profiled in today's blog on DonorsChoose. While the onus seems to be on the teacher to write up the projects needed, it would seem to be some compassionate PTA members could ferret classroom needs, write up the materials so that the teacher could submit, and spread the word on their social networks. Those who can contribute will. Note that I profiled Mrs. Povinelli's Project at Bradoaks. Unless someone made her take it down (I doubt), she was funded fully and the project removed. http://monrovia.patch.com/blog_posts/donorschoose-an-easy-way-to-donate-to-local-schools
Gayle M. Montgomery January 26, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Now that I've posted the blog, there are a couple of points I would like to address. Though I don't agree with Rob's actions, I understand where he was coming from and believe both he and Tom had the well being of Monrovia and its citizenry in mind. That said, our schools and their funding are in extreme duress, and we must do all we can to support them. As a grandmother, I am going broke supporting things for the grandkids' schools that were paid for by my elders when I was going to school. These kids are lucky enough to have a grandmother who can and will help; many cannot or will not. Kids should not suffer, and teachers should not have to shell out hand over fist.
Gayle M. Montgomery January 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Next point, like Tom, my dad was a broker (in Lake Arrowhead, now reitred, though my stepmom, a now retired teacher, is still involved in realty). My brother has his own business in Montclair. Businesses are struggling to make ends meet and yet they are being asked to contribute more than ever because everyone is suffering. We need to give each other a break. Years ago, as a single mom, no child support, I bought a washer and dryer from the store that was on Foothill. I know for a fact I paid more than if I had bought it from a discount place, but I wanted to support my community. By the way, if you think we should buy locally, what is the make of that car you drive? Something to consider. We cannot impede our schools from seeking funding outside of town if that is the way they will achieve goals needed to educate our kids. Remember, 37.5% of Monrovia households get by on $35K a year or less. The money has to come from somewhere, and our merchants continue to struggle to make ends meet. Don't believe me? Look around and see all the shuttered businesses. In some areas, I am absolutely aghast that some of our standards are no longer there (so long, Acapulco and Blockbuster, I will miss you!).
Kristin Snow Reynolds January 28, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Rob Hammond either does not understand or is abusing his role as as a school board member. His focus should be on the best interests of MUSD students. Instead he is pursuing his own political agenda. It is in the best interests of our students to expand fundraising rather than limit it. Hammond's actions have resulted in a waste of valuable time and energy as we debate this issue. As Monrovians and MUSD parents we first and foremost wish to support Monrovia businesses (and in So Cal who wants to drive any further for something than they have to?) but Monrovia businesses cannot possibly be our only source of fundraising if we are to continue to meet the needs of our students and enrich their learning. Also, we are part of a larger community in the San Gabriel Valley foothills. Duarte & Arcadia schools fund raise in Monrovia. Their board members are not attempting to restrict them. Hammond is completely out of touch with what our PTA's are up against. After 5 yrs of budget cuts, our PTA's are paying for things that were previously provided by the district. It would be in his best interest to work with the PTA's rather than against them. Furthermore, one arrogant board member does not have the power to demand a marquee message be removed and the policy being considered that marquee messages be approved by the board is ridiculous. Stop micro-managing and leave the marquee messages up to each principal. The Bradoaks PTA stands with Mayflower & Clifton.
Carmen Martinez January 30, 2012 at 04:36 PM
When we shop at the Farmer's Market, does that hurt the Monrovia merchants?


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