Who is Funding Your Child's Classroom Experience?

Your child's classroom experience will rely on the PTA more than ever before as tax bennies expire for educators.


As the funding for our children’s classroom dwindles, our children’s classroom experience is about to take another hit.  Teachers across America will soon learn that the Educator Expense Deduction, which was revitalized under the “Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004”, has expired and questions of it being renewed remain unanswered for 2012’s taxes.  

The Educator Expense Deduction allowed qualified educators in private, elementary or secondary schools to deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses, such as instructional material, software, and various supplies, against their adjusted gross income (AGI) offering a small tax benefit.  

Certainly, the tax upset is not enough to make or break families of educators nationwide, but it is yet another blow to our children’s academic experience that could possibly leave salary reduced educators feeling “fed up” with all of the bureaucracy and they just may not be as willing to provide the materials that they need anymore.

Parents, it’s time to take action and help promote a well-rounded experience in your child’s classroom by supporting your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Organization (PTO).  PTA’s are community groups formed with parents and educators from your child’s school.  These leaders realize the shortfalls that influence their particular school and work their butts off to help offset the budget
shortfalls.  PTA’s support many facets of education including field trips, playground equipment, school supplies and various school specific grants. 

Selling gift-wrap or buying cookie dough is a great way to support your local PTA. It does help your school of choice and your school will receive a small financial benefit from each container sold.  As a parent supporter, you will receive a non-tax-deductible-glop-of-cookie-dough that remains forever on your hips.

However, a check slipped into it an envelope delivered within your child's backback, can offer more opportunities to the classroom environment than stockpiling ginormous amounts of frozen cookie dough because 100% of your check will go towards funding the classroom experience.   100%--How cool is that?!?!?

Who else benefits from your monetary donations?  You do.  Not only will you experience the “warm fuzzies” of charitable giving, you will receive a tax benefit at the end of the year.  Keep that canceled check (payable to your local PTA) handy and Voila! You will earn a tax benefit because PTA’s are considered a Qualified Organization in the IRS’s eyes. 

Help your child receive the classroom opportunities that they deserve TODAY by supporting your local PTA or PTO.  No check is too small.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Margie Bonuchi September 21, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Thanks Shelia! Another great way to show support is come out to the Plfd Band Boosters Craft Show on Oct 27th & 28th at PHS-CC. This fundraiser supports ALL 4 HS Band programs. I have been running this show as a way to raise money without direct selling since 1998 and this is our 25th show( We used to do 2 per yr) Throughout the years, I have worked along side wonderful parent & student volunteers and ALL the monies go back directly to the band programs. Many of the crafters are retired folks and these days some are supplementing much needed income. Its a win-win for all! The arts are an intregal part of a well-rounded education for our students and events like this truly support the needs of the programs.
Sheila Raddatz September 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Margie, I could only wish the powers at be had as much passion for music programs in schools as you do. One can equate music (and art) as the fluid to learning. It promotes concentration, critical thinking skills, non-verbal IQ and spatial cognition. Plus the arts programs can be pretty down right cool!
Margie Bonuchi September 22, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Ron, I am not going to debate you in this forum, but I can tell you this, I donate substantial money all over this school dist and the town and the YMCA, etc. I buy so much stuff from these sales (cookie dough, discount cards, wrapping paper, etc) I am giving it away. I donate hundreds of hours for this show so that we can raise money. I use some of my own money for supplies etc. I have gained huge grants and many free equipment and services for the Dist. I know there are people just waiting to attack me but I can stand by what I say here. I have done my best to give back and normally would not post this but I felt I had to right here. You are right about the pensions but that is a teacher union issue.
Betsey September 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Ron- Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is, or the ignorance that is coming out of it? Margie Bonuchi has nothing to do with fundraising other than the Band Craft Show. This woman donates her time and energy, even though she no longer has children in our district. Why because she cares and wants to make a difference. As Margie stated in her response to you, she has written up TONS of grants. Any person knows how much time and energy that takes to do. I would guess these grants have more or pretty close covered the salary that our district pays her. You would know some of the things if you attended our school board meetings. Yet time and time again I see the same people and empty chairs. Why because there are people in this community that would rather sit out home on their favorite chair, and complain. Instead of educate themselves on some of the things going on at the school board meeting. These are going to be HARD TIMES coming up with all the budget gets, and short comings of the State and Fed. I applaud Sheila for her article.
Moe September 22, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Please don't waste your time with Ron Jidzny. By just reading his post on this and other issues. You can conclude that he lacks on the facts. And his ignorance shines through. He let's his political rhetoric interfere with commonsense.
Betsey September 22, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Ron- To personally attack someone for the pension plan, that has been in affect for a long time thru out t he state of Illinois is wrong. Whether I agree with you on that or not, is not the point. I have been told by several people from LARGE IT companies there is a fomula for a districts IT department. This being said we are far below the IT people slash students numbers. Continually we have people complaining on our lack of computer classes for K-12. Tell me how is this to be done, without paying a good salary for accredited staffing? If the state of Illinois hands over the pensions to school districts, this will cripple some districts. What we have seen in budget cuts so far will be nothing compared to what is to come. I have continually asked people to write letters how our budget cuts have affected them so far, send them to their representatives. Think about what will happen if they hand over the pension, cuts will be made. It could potentially be the worst cuts we have had yet, staffing, extra-curricular programs, etc. If you have so many good ideas Ron they will be excepting the form to run for school board, step up and make a difference instead of throwing stones! While sitting on the bench
LMS September 22, 2012 at 04:04 PM
One problem...that money isn't "additional" and won't end up as a savings. You'd have to put this $11.8 million you speak of on the teachers' checks directly so they can officially and on paper make the pension contributions. No matter what accounting-purposes monetary shell game is being played, that money is part of the teachers' salary package.
Margie Bonuchi September 22, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Ron, I agree. Maybe you need to review the tracher's contract or contact the APT union president. Do you know her? Maybe you want to FOIA? LMS: They do not need to put it in their checks, where did you get that from?
Michael K Vaughn September 22, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I can not believe the amount of attacks personally on people on this website. It always seems to be against those who are doing the most for our community. It is a shame that people continually use this site to portray their negative attitudes.
Sheila Raddatz September 22, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Politics aside, why should the children's classroom take a hit while we squabble? Donating to your local PTA/PTO helps your child's classroom without the red tape.
LMS September 22, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Margie, either give the teachers more money and have them make the pension contributions directly, technically, officially, and on-paper out of their checks or continue with the current system. Either way, the teachers pay the contribution out of their salary package. I don't understand what you're asking me, or what you're confused about. I'm not personally attacking you. I don't know you. You've just put me on alert regarding your views on teachers and/or unions.
Scott September 22, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The teachers and administrators negotiate a payment package. My local union negotiates my pay and benefits as one package. During negotiations our raises are determined by many factors including the rising cost of healthcare, the economy and the health of our pension plan. When we get a raise through our collective bargaining agreement (not through force) our members then vote to where that money goes. In the past ten years we voted to put a good deal of our raises toward our health benefit. My local likes to put a nice chunk of our raises toward our defined benefit and our defined contribution. The rest goes on our checks or education fund. Our employers pay us a weekly paycheck and then pays the rest of our benefits directly to the local who then distributes the money according to the collective bargaining agreement. I don't write a check to the union my employer does. The same is true for the teachers union. The pension benefit is part of the overall package of pay and benefits. If you want to have the teachers pay directly for this benefit then you would have to pay them the difference on their pay checks. The overall cost to the tax payers would be the same. Just remember, the teachers don't pay into social security they pay into the Teachers Retirement System. The TRS is their social security. Ron, are you saying that you write checks to social security?
LMS September 22, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Ron, perhaps you should take the time to read what other people post and make sure you understand what they're saying before coming back with the same tired stuff. You act as though you're presenting a new argument, or one the majority of us can't wrap our heads around. The simple truth is--> you're wrong. Read what we're saying, do some unbiased research, and *think* about it. If you say our teacher pension system is broken and needs serious fixing most people would agree. If you keep insisting, on-topic or no, that the quick-fix solution is to dump it on the teachers' laps, thereby saving millions of dollars those sneaky teachers and their evil unions have tricked the hapless taxpayers out of then other Patch posters will keep banging their heads against the wall trying to make you understand that you've grossly oversimplified a complicated issue and are, in short, wrong. You're not wrong about not wanting to buy overpriced cookie dough and wrapping paper, though. I'd rather just donate school supplies directly where needed.
Sheila Raddatz September 22, 2012 at 08:24 PM
LMS, PTAs go beyond the 10 cent school supplies. They help fund education programs, school improvements and classroom materials including as technology.
LMS September 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I never said all PTAs/PTOs do is buy 10 cent school supplies. I also never said that's all I personally donate, or that I never participate in school fundraisers (although I really do prefer just to donate materials or write a check). All I said was I prefer not to take part in fundraisers involving grossly overpriced goods. Most people dislike taking part in those fundraisers for obvious reasons.
Scott September 23, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Ron, I'm trying to tell you that the teachers are paid a little less because the board is picking up their contributions to the retirement fund. They are not going to put that into the contract but that is what happens during the negotiations. The teacher's union negotiates to have the contributions picked up by the board before taxes are deducted. In this way teachers aren't paying income taxes on the 9.5% that goes into their retirement.
Jason September 23, 2012 at 01:01 AM
After reading all of the comments, I am a Plainfield Tax paying citizens for many years. I have had zero children who have gone through the Plainfield School District. Typically, school districts are the highest taxing bodies in annual local property taxes. These are all facts! Many of you who have commented are trying to educate as that is the career that you have chosen and it is extremely unfortunate that we have citizens in our community that refuse to be educated. Educators should be thanked, but unfortunately, the flavor nationwide recently is to resent. No matter how you all try to explain FACTUAL information to Ron Jidzny, he is either unwilling or incapable to understand. Clearly, he must have been the child who was left behind. Next post, he will tell all you educators about the true merits of NCLB! HA! You need to take your messages of hate somewhere else. Unbelievable General Assembly salaries, pensions, and other benefits are a good place to start. He should realize all that comes from taxes as well, but I'm sure that he will somehow deny or discredit that factual information.
Tina September 23, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I'm glad you explained that. My husband works in another district where the teachers contribute out of their paycheck. His district pays more than Plainfield to allow for that (I assume). Plainfield pays less but contributes more to pensions. So the districts pay may be more comparble than I thought. I have to say I never thought of it that way before.
Jason September 23, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Writing in a simple "grade school level" form of communication was the only reassurance I had for you to be able to understand. I had chose not to regurgitate the multiple facts already presented by others on this forum that you have ALREADY ignored. As it appears a couple of them are public employees, they can not fully stand up for themselves to your form of bullying. I do not have those constraints as a taxpayer which is why I had wrote. Respond as much as you want, but I will waste no more time on you by commenting no more. It is ashame that you can not put your apparent abundance of time to some practical use of actually solving REAL problems instead of casting blame.
Scott September 23, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I did do my homework thank-you very much. The TRS is considered to be a section 401{a} by the IRS. According to the IRS section 414 (h) (2) if the employer "picks up" (pays) the benefit it is not considered in the gross income of the employee. So if a teacher makes $50,000 in gross income and has to pay 9.4% ($4700) into the TRS that teacher still has to pay income based on $50,000. But if you paid that same teacher $45,300 ($50,000-$4700) and the board picked up the $4700 to the TRS the the teacher pays income tax on the $45,300, which would be less than paying income tax on $50,000. This is from the IRS website which I will link below. "Employer “Pick-Up” Contributions: Section 414(h)(2) allows state or local government entities with section 401(a) plans to treat certain contributions designated as employee contributions, but which are “picked up” (paid) by the employer, to be treated as employer contributions, and therefore as exempt from income tax." http://www.irs.gov/Government-Entities/Federal,-State-&-Local-Governments/FSLG-Toolkit
Maura Ibarlucca September 23, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Sad that a word such as "fund" could create the commentary that has appeared in this thread. A Fund means: "an organization" created to administer or manage a fund, as of money invested or contributed for some special purpose. or to allocate or provide funds for (a program, project, etc.). why does this article about "HOW" have to turn into an attack on what is wrong? A FUND TO me (as ignorant as this may seem to others, is the following): Teachers. Staff. PTA. Volunteers. Our Families and Guardians of who? STUDENTS Bottom line: money is a need, I understand, and there will be individuals here that have their opinion of the ignorance of my comment, but the fact is this: 1) if a family joins a school for the first time and are not welcomed.. 2) if a member of the staff does not demonstrate a positive liaison between the school and the families.. 3) If the teachers are too busy to call the parents or provide updates on their students... 4) If the PTA is more about control, not willing to listen to new ideas, not willing to allow others to help because of differing personalities 5) if the volunteer sign up is low, and PTA membership down, because the atmosphere and lack of team work, or willingness to allow new families in to help...is toxic.. what suffers THE STUDENTS.. The money factor will work itself out but the bottom line is if those categories cannot work well-the ability to "Fund" for our students fail "Fund" Share. Give.
Maura Ibarlucca September 23, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Lastly, when you look at the funding aspect from a fundraiser and monetary aspect, those that immediately jump to the "i don't want to spend money on wrapping paper," my dear commenting friends, think outside of the box.. there are so many educational ways that does not require you to save space in your freezer for pizzas, or closets for wrapping paper.... if everyone that runs this district wasn't willing to look outside of the box it wouldn't be successful..sure there are areas that need changing--but isn't that why there are opportunities in place to help that? Boosters like Margie mentioned... other district groups that help engage schools and families... there are things we do not have the full power to change, but there are a few things that we can change-- grab that box of yours, and climb out of it, you may just surprise yourself... it can be done...
Nicole September 23, 2012 at 08:33 AM
Well, I was going to reccommend this article on Facebook since I am a HUGE supporter of the PTA and all they do for the schools, however, after seeing that THE PATCH has once again become a place for a typed argument, the importance of this article bringing attention to PTAs is now lost. That sucks, because for 2 years I have worked very closely with my son's school's PTA, and I know for a fact how much money everyone raises and exactly how everything is put back towards the students. Why do certain people have to always ruin things on here???
LMS September 23, 2012 at 01:42 PM
The Patch becomes a typed argument the majority of the time, if not about teacher pensions then about where hamburger restaurants are located. That shouldn't affect your admiration of the blog content. If you like the article, recommend it. Another option would be to write an article/blog yourself, with or without the help of your fellow PTA members, educating Patch readers about PTA facts you feel they don't already know. One tip for avoiding unwanted controversy on the subject would be NOT calling the article, "Who is Funding Your Child's Classroom Experience?" I'm surprised the intended topic didn't get derailed much more severely.
Sheila Raddatz September 23, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Thank you Maura and Nicole! My article is also available on my personal blog. Please help me get the NPTA's word out!!! http://www.oldsoulramblings.com/2012/09/who-is-funding-your-childs-classroom.html
Maura Ibarlucca September 23, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I couldn't agree with you more Nicole!! Thanks for the consistent work you do for the PTA, I know firsthand how frustrating it is and to continue to give and be creative and look for better ways is why there is a PTA in your school, and ours. I'm glad to know that there are more individuals such as you and others like Betsey etc that do NOT give up regardless-because the bottom line ends in: CHILDREN!! thank you!! !:)
Maura Ibarlucca September 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Anytime Shelia!! There is such a disconnect between the biggest factors: What we can control. What we are here for. We have the ability to help our children. That we can control. We have the ability to participate in our schools and organizations. That we can control. We have the ability to listen to other families, encourage them to help out. That we can pledge. We can develop our little minds as they receive their education-in cooperation with our schools. That we can control. Our society is ever changing--we have no control over that. But like the story goes from "Stone Soup," even without all the ingredients, the soup can still be made because of the support from others. That we can control. What are we all here for? Not Politics. Not fights over what one person should have done. We are here for our children. Very glad you wrote this post.
Maura Ibarlucca September 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
(whoops: "we can develop our little minds...) Insert: "we can develop our children's little minds.." ) :)


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