A Word to the Wise

If you are considering following our plan or making one of your own, I congratulate you. I have shared with you how to succeed, now I want to tell you a little story. I hope you plan your efforts accordingly.

Once upon a time there was a group of parents who were concerned about the lack of technology at their children's school. They went to the principal to express their concern. The principal opened the door to their doing something about it.

They went to the school board. It was explained that there was no money in the till. The parents decided to explore other avenues. For three years, they gave hours upon hours to support their school. They raised money by running many fund raisers and bought new computers for their school. They helped the teachers and students use them. They bought or earned thousands of dollars of software and accessories, too.

Word got out about what was happening at this school. Parents at other schools in the district wanted to know how to do it . The computer volunteers shared all they knew. Some schools got involved. Others did not. This created a disparity between the buildings.

A new administration came into the picture. They saw a need to improve the technology program in the district. They hired a person to coordinate technology and set aside funds to buy technology. A plan was made on how to put at least one computer in every classroom. The proactive parent groups were not included in the budget planning.

When the budget was about to be approved, the proactive parents discovered that those buildings where parents had bought computers would receive much less funding than those who did nothing. In fact, the most active building would receive only two computers.

The explanation offered by some school board members was that they were trying to provide equity across the schools. They did not grasp that the computers they were buying were bigger, faster, and much more advanced than the ones the parents had bought three years ago. All they seemed to be concerned about was saving a buck. They accused the parents of not seeing the big picture. This was, of course, absurd since the parents had been passing on donated equipment, free CDs and information to other schools in the district.

The proactive parents argued that it was inappropriate for the district to count the computers parent's fund raising had purchased. Parent generated funding and purchases should not be considered when deciding the district's distribution of funding.

Although there was ample ammunition, the parents elected not to stir up a furor. How would that contribute to working positively with the district to build the technology program? To placate the parents it was promised to address this in the next budget year. One parent did insist the district put a policy, in writing, about how they would treat parental funding in the future.

Personally, I would think long and hard before alienating a group of people who gets this much accomplished.

Before you begin, get this funding issue resolved in writing. None of the funding support you provide to your school, whether it be dollars or items, should be used in consideration of district funding. Any parental support should have no bearing on the district's obligation to fund the schools equitably. If there are parents who complain about the disparity, urge them to get involved in their school.

If they say to you that your request is absurd. Why would they ever count parent funding? You feel free to... tell them a little story.

In this age of decreasing education funding and rising costs, it is patently absurd for a district to take for granted any non tax based funding. Every administration should be cultivating positive relationships within their school's community that will yield improvements for their school. By doing this everyone is a winner. The building gets funded. The needed equipment and support is provided. The taxpayer even gets a break.

If the district feels it must count parental funding, it behooves them to get the consensus of the involved groups. They should be open about what they are going to do. If it is truly the right thing to do, it should stand up to the light of day. Yes, it is likely that someone will point out the flaws in the plan. By allowing for discussion, they can perhaps build a multi year plan that is acceptable to everyone involved. ;-)

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©1999 Cynthia O'Hora All rights reserved. Posted 10/2001 by Cindy O'Hora

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