The National PTA is now involved in a funding dispute between the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools PTA Council and The PTA Thrift Shop, after the thrift shop has steadily decreased funding for the PTAs.
The PTA Thrift Shop, an independent nonprofit, announced a construction campaign in 2011, telling the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board Of Education that in five years, funding to the PTAs was expected to increase 44 percent.
In 2011, the thrift shop gave $265,000 to the schools’ PTAs, according to the PTA Council website. However in 2018, the thrift shop distributed $7,857 to the PTAs, according to the PTA Thrift Shop’s website.
The PTA Council is requesting the Thrift Shop to remove “PTA” from its name, due to this decline in funding.
The thrift shop decreased funding after it began making payments for the 2011 construction, PTA Thrift Shop Executive Director Barbara Jessie-Black said.
The construction is part of its strategic plan, she said, which is aimed at finding new ways of making the organization money and responding to the 2009 recession.
The original project included renovating their Carrboro store, but a second phase was added in 2013 to buy the adjacent property and rent it out to other nonprofits, where the mortgage is one of the main expenses.
Since then, revenue for the Thrift Shop increased by 10.4 percent.
In the 2011 meeting, PTA Thrift Shop told the CHCCS Board of Education it would be flushed with cash again by 2013, so the schools should not expect distributions for the year of 2012. The PTAs received $4,000 in 2013 and $0 in 2014.
“We are giving money to the PTAs, it’s just not as robust as it was prior to the strategic planning process,” Jessie-Black said. “Our goal is to get back to those levels.”
Jessie-Black called the project a 10 year plan, with this being the eighth year.
Lisa Kaylie, former PTA Council president, said parents are most upset about the thrift shop using the name “PTA” since the council receives less money.
The PTA Council began discussing the issue in 2016 by requesting more financial information and future plans, according to the council’s website.
In June 2018, following months of mediation, the PTA Council sent a letter to the Thrift Shop requesting the removal of “PTA” from its name. The National PTA released a statement that said the organization has trademarked the term “PTA” and that the thrift shop's use of it is causing confusion.
“The shop has changed its mission and is no longer affiliated with nor providing support to local PTAs,” National PTA President Jim Accomando said in the statement.
Jessie-Black said the thrift shop’s main goal was still to support the PTAs, which are the only organizations that receive funds from the thrift shop.
Kaylie said the PTAs were never given a concrete plan or additional financial information.
“The community is donating all their materials and allowing them to operate as a tax-free nonprofit,” Kaylie said. “We understand you’ve had some financial responsibilities, but what is your plan going forward?”
The thrift shop’s 2016 tax form showed their total liabilities, mostly mortgages and loans from the building project, at $4.47 million.
Kaylie said the PTAs understand that paying off the debt is what is curbing their funding, but she does not expect the loans to be paid off anytime soon and expects the mortgage to last another 20 years.
The thrift shop received $130,655 in rent from the other nonprofits, according to the 2016 tax form. Their total rental expenses for the year, including the space in Chapel Hill, was $162,158.
“We’re not bad people,” Kaylie said. “We’re parents. We’re working after we come home from work, trying to make the school experience positive for everyone.”
Jessie-Black said the organization’s mission has not changed, but now it is just taking a more 21st century approach.
“We’ve always functioned as broader community impact,” she said. “Our main recipient has always been the PTAs.”
The future of the relationship is uncertain, but Jessie-Black maintains that the store will keep the name PTA.
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