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The technical differences between a PTA and a PTO are fairly simple. The National PTA is a formal membership organization headquartered in Chicago with a 105-year history of working for children. Local groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues to the state and national organizations and abide by state and national group rules. In return, they get member benefits, and they get a voice in the operations of the larger organization. The National PTA maintains a Washington, D.C., lobbying office, and most state PTAs advocate at their respective state capitals, as well. The PTA carefully protects its name, so that in theory only dues-paying members of the group can call themselves a PTA. PTO, on the other hand, is a more generic term. It generally represents the thousands of groups that choose to remain independent of the PTA. The acronym PTO is the most popular name, but other common monikers include PCC, PTG, and HSA.


Asked by SAHMinIL2 at 6:03 PM on Aug. 27, 2010 in

Level 23 (15,584 Credits)
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Answers (16)
  • As for the differences of benefits in the schools, I think it really depends on the school (or the people who run them) itself and what they want to do.


    Answer by JeremysMom at 9:45 PM on Aug. 28, 2010

  • My son's school has a PTO.

    Answer by Courtney610 at 6:09 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • Our school's parents felt going to a PTO could keep the funds with their students rather than the national organization.

    Answer by amw529 at 6:15 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • I ran out of room: So other then one having to pay dues to a national organization and getting a voice in the operations of the larger organization what benefits do the STUDENTS get when it's a PTA vs say a PTO??


    Comment by SAHMinIL2 (original poster) at 6:04 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • This is the first time I have ever heard of the PTO...

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 6:05 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • I never knew this. Last year, my son's school had a PTO, this year, they are the PTA. I have NO idea what the difference is. So far, nothing

    Answer by Mom_2_cuties at 6:12 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • LOL! Most of the schools around here have a PTO, only a handful of the PRIVATE schools have PTA, but even some of them have a HSA (Home and School Association). Honestly I didn't even know there was a NATIONAL PTA Organization that LOCAL PTA group's belong to, until there were those questions about PTA fees. I stopped an googled it, because like you it threw me off that the group would even charge to be a member. (I knew the local private school's did, but I just thought it was a "private" school thing). Other then that; I just assumed a group being called PTO or PTA had to do with personal group preference. I didn't know that PTA also meant that they belong to a NATIONAL group and had to pay fees to the group.

    Comment by SAHMinIL2 (original poster) at 6:14 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • Our school has a PTO and everything that is earned goes straight to the school. Last year they had a walk-a-thon in the elementary school that raised almost $7000. all of that money went straight to the school instead of part of it having to go to the national organization.

    Answer by colethky at 6:28 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • I know that our biggest fundraiser of the year is a carnival. It brings in about $60,000. We ,as a school, refuse to have our kids pimp goods door to door and have found this to be a much bigger money maker and a wonderful way to bring our school families and community together. Being that we are part of the PTA we do not need insurance for this event which would be a HUGE expense; the organization covers it. If there is ever a loss of funds due to embezzlement we are covered... as long as we have been following our by-laws. There are other technical benefits.



    Answer by sahlady at 6:33 PM on Aug. 27, 2010

  • I would guess that a well run PTO can provide just as many benefits to the children and families.

    However, with out raising ANY money from dues Im curios as to how certain expenses are covered. I assume it is all fundraising from the kids - right?


    Answer by sahlady at 6:35 PM on Aug. 27, 2010