By now, you may have heard about the case of the missing PTA dollars at PS 29 (if you haven’t, you can read about it here and here). For a school that relies on parent fundraising to offset harsh budget cuts, paying for everything from teachers' assistants to school supplies, the roughly $100,000 allegedly pilfered by the former PTA treasurer was no small potatoes.
But the hardest part to take really wasn’t the lost cash–tough as that sum is to swallow. For me, and for many members of the neighborhood I have talked with (I certainly can’t speak for everyone), most devastating has been the breach of trust–as we all want to believe that everyone is invested in the same goal: the growth and well-being of our children, and the success of our school.
It’s easy–and yes, sometimes satisfying–to engage in gossip and snark in a situation like this. I'll admit, my blood was boiling as I walked to the initial meeting called to address the crisis. But then, as several parents expressed concerns about how we were going to get through this, I realized the most constructive thing was to move forward and figure out how to make the community stronger. Already, a plan was in place to create an audit committee, to keep a close eye on finances. There were entreaties for more people to get involved with the PTA, please to not poison the atmosphere with cynicism and gossip.
For me, the fact that there are children so closely involved has been the best reminder of all to rise above the anger, to speak carefully, and to not lose sight that the common goal is creating a better place for them to learn.