There was really no campaign at all. At the last PTF meeting that previous June, I happened to be walking by the auditorium while nominations were in process. I yelled in, "Justine!" and no one seemed to notice. So, I went on my way. But, when the votes were tallied, I guess I came in first, because there was a call waiting on my answering machine at home saying, "Congrats! You're the new prez!" Aw geez, I thought at the time, that's a lot of work! Then, I forgot about it and went to the water park.
So, sometime that August, I got a call from someone on the PTF committee — can't recall her name — exhorting me to get working on the first major fundraiser of the year, selling Fosterbrook. Basically, it's a bunch of wrapping paper and chocolate and other worthless things that the kiddos are socially pressured into foisting upon their sphere of influence (read: grandparents) in return for a paltry percentage of sales for the school. I tell you, I looked through the proposed fall fundraising catalogue, and I didn't see anything worthwhile. Seriously, not a Jane Austen or G.K. Chesterton book in the lot. So, I sat down at my laptop and wrote a letter.
We all hate having our kids impose on neighbors, friends, and family with these obnoxious fundraisers. Besides, Fosterbrook just sells a bunch of crap. What's say you all cut me a check for $50 per kid, and we call it even?
Love and kisses,
Your PTF President
I sent that home with the kids on the first day of school, instead of the Fosterbrook packet, and the parents were so grateful that the checks just started rolling in. Some of them even doubled their extorted gifts. It was great! Fosterbrook was not too happy, but who cares? That was a nice little $15,000 padding with which to start the year.
Next up, someone started bugging me about Fall Festival, which, for some reason, is held within the first three weeks of the school year, when everyone has other things they would much rather be doing. So, I cancelled it to much rejoicing. Instead, I instituted Friday movie nights once a month in the auditorium. For $10 per kid, the parents could drop them off to eat popcorn and watch a Roald Dahl movie while the parents got a few hours out and about. It was a smashing success. Over the year, that brought us in an additional $12,000.
After these remarkable decisions, I disbanded the rest of PTF and told the parent volunteers that I had it covered. The only other position I kept was treasurer. She was kept busy with all the fat receipts coming in from my brilliant ideas. I doubled the size of the book fair — bringing in vendors other than just Scholastic. I cancelled the hall rentals for the Christmas and Easter concerts and sent this letter out to the parents, instead:
It totally sucks having to sit through OPK's* performances at the concerts, right? So, this year, we're going to host a series of small, separate concerts on campus, so you needn't be oppressed by the scraggly violins or off-key warblings of any rugrats not in class with your infinitely more talented offspring. Please consider, in appreciation of my consideration for your time and eardrums, a modest gift to our school.
Hugs and atta-boys,
Your PTF Kommandant
Need I say it? The money poured in so fast, my treasurer had to come in on the weekend to process it. Since we were expending so little for these fundraisers, almost all the proceeds went directly into the school's coffers to fund stuff that we really want the kids to have — like awesome field trips.
The tricky one was the spring auction. Traditionally, each classroom would put together one or two baskets that would then — with other donated items from local businesses — be auctioned off. The problem, as I saw it, was not simply the expense of hosting such a gala (which, as always, seemed counter-productive), but the fact that parents had to contribute to make these baskets, and then, presumably, buy them back again at auction. So, I thought maybe I could get some guidance from the other parents. I sent out the following e-mail:
What do you guys think of the auction baskets, huh? I know it's a major fundraiser for the school, but it seems rather redundant to me. Did you ever wonder why the school doesn't just raise its tuition to what it needs for the year and then leave us alone? Yeah, I know, me too. So anyway, I don't know, this auction thing — let me know what you guys think, OK?
With a firm handshake and a solemn nod of the head,
Your Sovereign PTF Queen
Suffice it to say, I got a lot of good ideas as feedback, and not one of them included a classroom auction basket. Now, how we raised the money might not be exactly legal, but it was certainly bonzer. I cannot reveal more at this time, especially with the investigations still ongoing, but we ended up doing quite nicely, thank you, with no baskets.
Well, the year ended and so did my presidency. All the parents gathered together to implore me to serve another year, but I told them that even such grand schemes as this had to meet their timely ends. My farewell address brought tears to more than one eye, especially as the parents considered that next year would bring back Fosterbrook, the grand, 3-hour long, aurally abusive concerts, and the like. They built me a cushioned litter and hoisted me up on the shoulders of the four strongest dads and paraded me around the parking lot while six lithesome moms threw rose petals in my path and a brass band played a triumphant march. Then came the startling announcement from the principal: My PTF had done such a miraculous job of raising funds, that PTF was far into the black for the next three years. A grand "Hurrah!" rang up from the crowd, and I bowed slightly, graciously, and slowly walked to my Honda, waving all the while. As I drove off, away from the school and my seat of absolute power, I realized that I had truly been the greatest PTF president that the school — and perhaps the world — had ever known. And that was enough for me.
*Other People's Kids