to all the kinder parents, and to anyone who has ever been a kinder parent—where the money goes….

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I love all you kinder parents this year and the sense of community you are already creating.

Everything is so new and so confusing. So different from preschool. But let’s be clear on this, as new and confused as you feel, one of you will be the PTA president some day. You will all take the school to the next level and make it better than it already is—with your tenacity, devotion, and enthusiasm.

When we took our oldest to kinder, she still had her baby fat and baby curls. We dropped her off with Ms. Fisher, where she found her desk, sat down, started coloring, and looked up at us and said, “bye guys.”

Bye guys. That was all, and it broke our hearts and made them happy at the same time. I think that is the definition of “bittersweet.”

This year, a very beautiful young lady resembling that tiny girl will say the same thing to Oak Forest.

“Bye guys.”

It happens overnight.

And through it all, have been the constants— the school that is our home and the PTA that is our heart.

We have seen new principals and different ways of doing things, all of them good, IMHO. One of the biggest changes has been how we fundraise. But whether we do product sales or do a Funrun, it has all gone to the same place: the PTA operating budget

Now, if you, are like me, when you hear the words “operating budget,” your brain might turn off. Mine tends to go to my happy place when I hear boring phrases. But I need you to wake up, leave the Infiniti pool and margarita in Cabo, and join me for a few minutes while I tell you where the money goes.

You know how at the beginning of the school year you see all of these posts on Facebook about how strangers buy teachers who are shopping at Walmart their classroom supplies? And you get a tear in your eye? Well, cry no more. You were just that kind hearted soul for every teacher at Oak Forest, to the tune of $500 each, and $1000 for the new teachers. That’s 23,000.00 (please note: all figures I am about to quote are mas o menos)

Does your kid love to read? Or need some reading motivation? The AR Program is a system that ranks books by reading level and assesses them with points based on the book’s length and complexity. The kids can read a book, and then take a comprehension test on it. If they pass the test, they earn points. Once they reach certain levels, they get prizes for the achieving that reading level. Their picture is put on the “AR Wall.” Sure, this isn’t for everyone. But for many kids it motivates them. The software for that costs $5000.00. The prizes cost an additional $5000.00. Paid for by you guys and the funds that you are helping to raise right now.

Do you like taking your kid to the Children’s Museum? Me neither. But the PTA sets aside $10,000.00 every year, for field trips. Not everyone has the time, or the money to take their kids to the zoo, or to see the back side of Minute Maid Park, or to Oilfield Ranch. And guess what? HISD can’t afford this anymore. So we are picking up the tab.

That brings me to the 5th grade camping trip. Traditionally each year, HISD paid for 5th graders throughout the district to go to an amazing sleep away camp at a beautiful facility. It is a huge rite of passage that some of you have participated in back in your day and remember fondly. This year, due to #tghisdbc2018, they can’t afford to do that. They cancelled the program. So guess what? The money the 5th graders earn from Funrun (up to 15,000.00) will help to cover this cost.

Do you remember the great stomach flu of 2015? I do. And so does my plunger. No one in my family was spared. Some classes were down to 8 kids. The PTA vowed to never have that happen again. So every year, we spend—you spend—$4000.00 on Kleenex and sanitary wipes to keep those nasty, poopy germs at bay.

Every year, Ms. Brown puts on some great respect and inclusiveness assemblies. Did your kids come home last year talking about a “bully hat” and how we all wear it sometimes? That cost $3500.00.

Still reading? I can go on….

Do you ever send a meal with your child for their teacher, to make their day special? Of course you do! Through the PTA’s teacher appreciation committee! The teachers get fed on days they have to stay later than normal and have other treats throughout the year. That costs $6000.00.

Reflections, recycling, arts in education, gardening, the directory, field day….I am tired of typing now.

It all costs money. Money that my 75 year old mother, my friends who send their kids to catholic schools, my old next door neighbor, the girls’ Godmother, our friends who sends their kid to Harvard Elementary and their crazy Uncle Bobby, helped provide.

They are happy to do it, because I am happy to do it. This is how it needs to be to get the programming we want for our school. We know the drill. Now, you, do too.

So go. Go forth and fundraise. Go and help us out to keep this tradition strong. To help our school get better and stronger for every child that walks through its doors, and for every kid that will walk out.

Keep on doing what we have been doing—for our children. Bye guys!