By SARAH SCHWEITZER
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000
TAMPA -- Police are investigating the disappearance of nearly $5,000 from the PTA fund at Broward Elementary School.
The money, which was to be used for the fifth-grade banquet and end-of-year celebrations, was discovered missing at the beginning of April.
PTA board members soon found that cash raised at fundraisers throughout the year had never been deposited.
"I couldn't believe it at first and then I was pretty ticked off because we worked so hard," said Susan Anderson, the PTA's membership chairman.
At Broward Elementary, in Seminole Heights, more than 80 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Raising money is difficult, officials said, because so few of the students' parents have money to spare. But with hundreds of volunteer hours, it happens.
"These kids really can't afford much and we try to give them as much as we can," said Dianna Porter, PTA president.
PTA officials filed a police report Wednesday.
They said they will be able to hold the fifth-grade banquet and other planned events by dipping into the PTA's savings account. But next year, fewer events may be held.
Most of the missing $5,000 had been raised at two events: a fall festival with food and games, and a Santa Shop where students buy gifts for family, paying only a small markup to the PTA.
Jennifer Henson oversaw the Santa Shop, putting in 40 hours one week organizing the event.
"It's very upsetting," Henson said.
PTA officials had hoped that next year a longtime goal would be met: a playground with swings for the school. That goal now seems more remote.
"That's what hurts so much," said Porter. "We had all worked so hard."