Grants are a key tool PTAs use to support teachers in the classroom. The question many local leaders have this year is: Can we still do teacher grants with virtual or hybrid learning?
We reached out to leaders around Washington and across the United States to see what PTAs plan on doing this year. The results fell into three large groups. The first group is taking a “wait and see” approach. This group wants to see what needs the teachers have as we start the year with virtual and hybrid models across the state. This group is also waiting to see how their Fall fundraisers work out before deciding how much money to spend on grants.
The second group of PTAs are typically the PTAs that offer to reimburse all teachers a fixed dollar amount toward classroom supplies each year. Some of these PTAs have reduced the amount this Fall and have said they will reexamine teacher needs and the budget in the Spring.
The third group of PTAs is looking outside the box. These PTAs typically have small budgets and small reserves. They are not optimistic about running a Fall fundraiser, so they are completely changing how they help teachers. Some of these PTAs are coordinating teacher wish lists on Amazon or local chain stores. Some PTAs are coordinating “teacher supply drives”, asking for families to donate specific goods that teachers will be using. Those PTA leaders will then distribute the collected supplies to the teachers as needed.
Whichever group you fall under consider reaching out to the teachers to see what they may need. Don’t assume that you may know what is needed or not needed because learning is starting virtually. For example, an art teacher may need supplies to help families work virtually. Your PTA may suggest teachers pool their individual grants if there is something they all can use for a grade level or department, depending on whether they are elementary or secondary. Another idea is talking with the administration to see if teacher grants are the way to go this year or if there is another way to help.
All PTAs need to remember that teacher/classroom grants are a budget item, and therefore need member approval to be changed. Remember that members can vote to change the budget later in the school year if the situation changes and students return to full face-to-face learning.
Guest post provided by WSPTA Membership Director Kim Kuhne and WSPTA Program Director Candy Walters