PTSA to Sag Harbor School Board: Revisit Fundraising, Train Student Leaders

The main entrance to Pierson Middle-High School.
The main entrance to Pierson Middle-High School.

By Christine Sampson

When the Sag Harbor School Board sat down recently to set its goals for the new school year, the Pierson High School PTSA had a suggestion: Revisit the student fundraising policy and introduce training for student council and class officers to help them be effective leaders.

They are “two intertwined topics that are regularly brought to our attention, and have been for quite a while,” Aura Winarick, the PTSA president, told the school board on July 25. “We believe these are really great experiences in many areas and we should raise the bar.”

Specifically, Ms. Winarick said the fundraising policy — which has not been updated since 2005 — should be clarified so students always know what they are supporting, whether it is prom, field trips, charitable efforts or other causes. She also said fair expectations should be laid out for how leftover money is handled as senior classes graduate. Current New York State education guidelines dictate that money belonging to classes that do not spend or donate all of it gets shifted to the general student council fund.

This was not the case for the classes of 2017 or 2016 — those classes spent or donated the moneys they raised — but “large sums of money have been left in class accounts, yet still families are paying for proms and graduation costs out of pocket. This is not good,” Ms. Winarick said.

Noting that organizations exist for the purpose of training student leaders, such as the National Student Government Association, she said the PTSA has even offered to help fund the training for the students and their faculty advisers.

The offer has caught the attention of the Sag Harbor School Board. Board president Diana Kolhoff said in an email to The Express the training idea is particularly intriguing.

“We would need more information regarding what it entails, but it definitely warrants discussion,” she said. “Personally, I believe that if we want to raise good leaders, we need to provide an opportunity for young adults to show good leadership. Student government seems like a prime opportunity to provide just that.”