What I’ve learned since becoming PTA treasurer

In the last few months I’ve added a new 15 hour a week hobby to my life and that is being the PTA treasurer for the local elementary school. This has literally sucked up all of my free time and much of my waking thoughts. I thought I’d share some of the items I’ve learned about myself in the process.

1) I like things that are routine and predictable, but I don’t like boring repetition.
Each month I balance the books against our bank statements. Each week I process check requests from the school. Every day I do a quick check of the bank to make sure no charge hits us unexpectedly. These things I actually quite enjoy. Last year, I really did not enjoy filling out the stupid deposit forms. It’s been nice to give that step away to the assistant this year.

2) People bounce their checks … a lot
I remember being fresh out of college and working to bring in a steady income along with getting my financial ducks in order. I took out a lot of debt to get through college, both official and on plastic, and it took a while to get everything squared away. I celebrated by buying a super cheap bottle of wine when I got rid of all the plastic debt and have never looked back. Once, about 10 years ago, I accidentally bounced a check. I was shocked – how could I let this happen? I now obsessively track all my outstanding checks and payments to make sure that never happens again. This role has taught me that I may be the only one in this community that doesn’t bounce checks. I feel bad for the donor when a $12 check bounces because I empathize with the embarrassment. Then, the bank comes in and hits us with an addition $25 fee because someone else wrote a bad check.

3) Credit card debt is out of control
Last year, after our auction, and major portion of the credit cards people used were denied. When I say major, do you think that means 15, 25, or 33% of the credit cards? Yeah, it was at least that high. I have had several people angry with me for not reimbursing their requests instantly (by the way, we have operating by laws and I can’t issue checks without going through a series of controls). I am not kidding, when people have been mad at me for $6 checks, and have asked that I pay the late fees/interest rates on their credit cards.

4) I hate filling out 990 forms

5) I am a bigger jerk than I thought
I have found through the course of this role that I have no sympathy for people who need their costs reimbursed immediately. I am likely biased that I have often had to wait almost a full quarter in previous jobs to be reimbursed several thousand dollars (flight and hotel costs for work). While that was one extreme example, it is not uncommon to wait over a month for reimbursement. Regardless, their pleas for quick turnaround fall on deaf ears. I’m not circumventing the process, and risking our controls, because someone can’t manage their credit cards. I also don’t think our teachers walk on water (I love our teachers, they are fantastic, but they are professionals and don’t need to be coddled).

6) I am amazed at what the PTA provides
Without the PTA, the school wouldn’t have art, music, dance, recess monitors, tutors, green grassy playfields, a projector, iPads, access to current social studies curriculum, would offer insufficient math instruction, and wouldn’t be able to provide a full library. I personally view these items are a requirement for elementary education, and am surprised that the parents have to raise so much money to fund these things – well over $350/kid. I live in a good neighborhood where parents are able to kick in this much. Not far from where I sit, asking parents to provide even an additional $30/kid would be asking a lot. Until our state is able to fund all of this, which despite the court findings is likely a long ways off, I’m happy that our parents are able to step up and fund these items. I’m happy to be able to act as treasurer and keep these great items coming for our kids. I’m hopeful for other communities to find ways to provide for their kids.

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