PTO – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between PTA and PTO?

At the end of the 2015 school year, our parents voted to disband Calabash PTA in favor of our newly created Calabash PTO.

PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association, a national association with various “PTA units” at schools across the country.  School PTAs are bound by the national bylaws and must follow a rigid set of protocols, including the requirement that no board officer serve for more than 2 consecutive years.

PTO stands for Parent Teacher Organization, a school specific organization unaffiliated with the national PTA.  More and more schools in our area are moving towards a PTO model as it allows the board & membership to craft bylaws that make sense for the individual school.  We have the flexibility to support our teachers and classrooms in ways we could not before.  Also, though board members must be elected annually, there is no longer a 2 year term cap.  We maintain all the checks/balances offered under the PTA umbrella but without the provisions that don’t make sense for our school.

What is PTO at Calabash?  What does it do?
The PTO consists of an elected executive board and the membership (i.e. parents & teachers who join the PTO).  The PTO plans and executes a variety of fundraisers throughout the year which support our various enrichment programs for the following school year.  We also organize a number of fun, family events and charitable programs.

How do I join and how much does membership cost?
As a PTO, we can choose not to collect membership dues (another difference between a PTO and PTA). Our strong belief is that every parent should automatically be a member of our school PTO, and have a voice at the table. We encourage participation at our monthly meetings, where parents can get involved in the planning of PTO events and discuss how PTO money is both earned and spent.

When are PTO meetings (2021-22)?

All meetings for 2021-22 will be on Zoom, until we’re able to meet back on campus.  Zoom details will be sent in monthly e-newsletters.  Meeting dates as follows, with all meetings starting at 9am (start time to be revisited once meetings are back on campus):

Sept 23

Oct 21

Nov 18

Jan 27

Feb 24

Mar 24

Apr 21

May 26

What do you discuss at PTO meetings?
The meetings are a forum for parents, teachers and our principal to come together.  We discuss recent PTO events, upcoming events and review PTO financials.  It’s also a forum for Ms. Gillis to make announcements.

Where does the PTO money go?
The money raised each school year supports programs for the following year.  PTO currently pays for:

  • Comprehensive art programs for all grades (theatre arts, music, ceramics, ballroom dance, etc.)
  • Weekly supplemental physical education program for all grades
  • All supplies and equipment for Science Lab, as well as hands-on experiments/instruction from Professor Egghead
  • Field trips for each grade (TK/K/1st enjoy mobile field trips (Mad Science, Wildlife Learning Center, etc.)
  • Campus beautification projects
  • Supplies & books for library
  • Supplies/plants for campus garden

Who decides how it’s spent?
The PTO membership votes on the budget for the following school year at the May meeting.

Are my donations to the PTO tax deductible?
Absolutely!  Friends of Calabash, Inc. DBA Calabash PTO is a 501c3 non-profit organization.  As such, all donations to the PTO are tax deductible.

What can I do to support the PTO?
Donations are vital to our primary goal, which is funding our Calabash’s enrichment programs.  Beyond making donations to the PTO, we can always use volunteers to help plan and run our various events throughout the year.

I want to volunteer but don’t have a lot of time.  What can I do?
If you’d like to sign up as a general volunteer, we can email you as events approach and when you’re available and interested in helping out you just let us know.  If you’re looking for ways to help during off-hours, there are plenty of opportunities.

Who do I contact if I want to get involved?
Email co-presidents Kate Eisenberg and Claire Borsheim at