Orange County

Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA wants thrift shop to show them the money

Parents, students and school staff donate and buy goods from the PTA Thrift Shop stores in Chapel Hill and Carrboro to raise money for extra supplies and programs in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. The PTA Council wants the thrift shop’s board to explain where the money has been going for the last six years and when the schools might get more of it.
Parents, students and school staff donate and buy goods from the PTA Thrift Shop stores in Chapel Hill and Carrboro to raise money for extra supplies and programs in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. The PTA Council wants the thrift shop’s board to explain where the money has been going for the last six years and when the schools might get more of it. File photo

Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council members want to know what’s happening with the money that the PTA Thrift Shop earns for the schools.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council Board emailed the thrift shop’s board Aug. 15 to express concern about the loss of funding over the last six years and ask for more transparency about how the thrift shop spends its money.

The email also asked the board to explain why the thrift shop’s 2001 bylaws were changed to eliminate PTA members in a 2014 filing with the N.C. Secretary of State. The 2001 bylaws allowed each PTA to choose three members. The 2014 filing removed those memberships.

The PTA Council’s email contends all members must approve any changes to the bylaws but did not. However, Dawn Edgerton, chairwoman of the thrift shop’s board, said the members attended a series of focus groups before voting through an electronic balloting process to remove the membership clause.

The PTA Council will update its members on the issues at 7 p.m. tonight, Sept. 13, in the East Chapel Hill High School media center.

Edgerton said she was on vacation and did not get the PTA Council’s email until recently. She spoke with PTA Council President Lisa Kaylie on Monday and offered to make a board presentation at Wednesday’s meeting, she said, but was told there wouldn’t be time then or at the October meeting. Edgerton said she then suggested a meeting next week between the two board’s executive councils but has not received a response.

Efforts to reach Kaylie were not successful Wednesday. Barbara Jessie-Black, the thrift shop’s executive director, was traveling and not available for comment.

The nonprofit PTA Thrift Shop was founded in 1952 with the mission of selling secondhand goods to raise money for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. The net proceeds have been allocated to each PTA since 2014 based on a school’s student population and the number receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Those sales netted well over $200,000 a year for the schools prior to 2012. Since then, the schools have received a total of only $119,000, although the Thrift Shop started a new program in 2015 – Project Impact – that has since provided eight grants worth a total of $22,838.

The program will provide another five grants this school year, according to a letter that thrift shop board members submitted Tuesday to The News & Observer. Edgerton did not know how much the latest grants are worth.

The letter noted that the thrift shop also works with the school district’s social workers and family specialists to provide needy families with in-kind donations and has a goal of restoring unrestricted PTA funding and giving more money to local schools in the future.

Edgerton could not confirm if that will happen next year.

“At the end of June of 2018, we’ll know where we stand,” she said. “We are currently anticipating that we will be able to restart the unrestricted funds.”

The money since 2012 has been used to pay over $5 million to renovate and expand the PTA Thrift Shop in Carrboro. A new YouthWorx on Main project next door now provides low-rent space to nonprofits serving local youths.

Jessie-Black said the expansion was meant to sustain the thrift shop’s future and help it earn more money for schools by using its land more effectively.

PTA officials didn’t expect the cuts to remain five years later, PTA Council President Lisa Kaylie said in October. The money usually helps teachers buy school supplies and provide extra classes, programs and scholarships, PTA officials have said.

They also noted that families and school staff members volunteer their time to help run the thrift shops and collect clothing and other donated goods for the stores. They want the thrift shop to be more transparent about where the money is going, officials said.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

What’s next

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight, Sept. 13, in the East Chapel Hill High School media center to provide its members with an update. The school is located at 500 Weaver Dairy Road in Chapel Hill.

Follow the money

PTA Thrift Shop sales revenues and proceeds given to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools since 2010:

▪ 2010: $1.41 million earned, $221,488 to schools

▪ 2011: $1.43 million earned; $265,000 to schools

▪ 2012: $1.13 million earned; $30,000 to schools

▪ 2013: $1.37 million earned; $4,000 to schools

▪ 2014: $1.65 million earned; none to schools

▪ 2015: $1.67 million earned; $85,000 to schools

▪ 2016: Sales revenues unavailable; four schools got a total of $13,100 in grants

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