What is the difference between a PTA and a PTO?
Typically, here at WHE we have over 100 new children a year – either families new to the school with Kindergarteners or families that move to our wonderful community from out of town. As a result, you may not be familiar with what a PTO is.
The technical differences between a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and a PTO are fairly simple. The National PTA is a formal membership organization now headquartered in Alexandria, VA. School-based groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues to the state and national organizations and abide by state and national group rules. In return, they get member benefits, and they get a voice in the operations of the larger organization. The National PTA maintains a Washington, D.C., office where it pursues a public policy agenda, and most state PTA units advocate at their respective state capitals, as well. The PTA carefully protects its name so that only dues-paying members of the group can call themselves a PTA.
PTO, on the other hand, is a generic term. It usually represents groups that choose to remain independent. These are most often single-school or district-level groups that operate under their own bylaws and by and large concern themselves with the goings-on at their building or in their town only.
At WHE we are a PTO who is actively involved in supporting our parents/guardians and teachers at our school and within the district. Because of the low funding to schools in the state of NC we don’t want to have to pay dues and fees to be a PTA but rather keep our money within our school, for the use of our school. We want to focus exclusively on improving and creating community at our school.
Per our Bylaws, the WHE PTO is committed primarily these primary objectives.
- Creating a community where students feel they belong;
- Advancing the environment where teachers and staff are supported;
- Supplementing the tools needed to enhance educational opportunities;
- Facilitating communication between parents, teachers and school leadership.