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.