Supporting educational extras in our district

I often end up sounding like a broken record when I enter my opinion in this space every week. I don’t mean to be boring, but it is possible that repeat topics elicit a yawn from my six regular readers. Heads up! I am getting ready to do it again so you might want to move on.

My broken record topic for this week is the swarm of upcoming fund raising promotions for many student groups at USD 398. I am not opposed to any of the organizations or their funding proposals. I know the district does not have the money for many of the extras with which my own children were blessed during their school years here. Times are tough and there is little wiggle room in the budget.

Spending has been cut back across the board. Superintendent Ron Traxson announced at the August school board meeting that the local option budget has maxed out its access to additional mills and the district still may suffer a short fall … if not this year, then probably next.

Not only will the extras not be funded, but it is possible that drastic cuts will have to be made to keep spending in check. The term “drastic cuts” tends to mean programs or staff.

Well, I am not much interested in cutting programs or staff in our school district, are you? So when the kiddos knock on my door with their fund raising information in hand, I usually buy something. The catalogs they show me picture high quality gift and home decorating items, candies, and other food products including the one that always grabs me — frozen cookie dough! The prices are a bit on the high side, but not prohibitive.

However, I have no idea what portion of the check I write actually goes to the Peabody-Burns schools. What percent supports the kids and what percent goes to the companies that develop fund raising promotions, provide the products we buy, or ship the orders? I inquired of a few people when I ordered from the catalog last year and no one really knew the answer. I am guessing that the district keeps a ridiculously small amount.

I am at a stage in my life where I really do not want more stuff. I am trying to get rid of much of the stuff that The Mister and I gathered during the past 50 years or so. I don’t need more candles or decorating items, I don’t need holiday trimmings or wrapping paper, and my cardiologist has said, “Absolutely not!” to those tubs of cookie dough waiting to clog my arteries.

So what’s a community supporter to do? I would rather write a check and have all of it remain in our school system. Is anyone else with me on this? Could there be an alternative program for supporters like me? I would like to see the administration, school board, or parent-teacher group come up with a different plan — or maybe an additional one — that would allow us to show support for local schools and programs, but not get saddled with items we don’t need or want. Could we create a district “wish list” to which people could donate directly and not feel pressured to buy things they don’t want?

I don’t think I am the only one who feels this way. Let me know what you think! Or, better yet, contact a school board member or the district’s central office and let them know you have an opinion about school fund raising. This is not a confrontational challenge; it is simply a way to entertain some ideas for a better system of financial support for our students and the programs in our district schools.

— SUSAN MARSHALL

 

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