If you give a school a fishing pole…

If you’ve been following closely, you already know that my husband and I are giving our entire state tax return to our daughter’s elementary school.

They’re facing massive budget cuts (AGAIN) and this year we realized that we didn’t actually NEED our state return, so we’re giving it back.

My husband met with the principal of the school last week to let him know our intentions and to ask him to put together a proposal on how he would like to use the money. We told him our priorities – healthy lunches, books in the library, classroom supplies. (We’re not getting enough back to pay for a teacher’s salary or that would be on the list too.) If those needs were already being met, he had our encouragement to find the place he felt our money could do the most good.

Off the top of his head he wanted to use the money for the ELL/ESL program. The funding was being cut and in our neighborhood it’s a vital program to have in place. With our money he’d be able to stave off disaster and invest in some new technologies to help the kids even more. We were willing, but admittedly a little skeptical.

We trust this man to do what he feels is right, but we worried that this was not a true solution, just a temporary stay of execution.

Then, two days later he came back to us with a better plan. The PASS (think PTA) group had just met and the reduced budget was very much on their minds. They had found a great program being used by many schools across the country to amazing success. It would allow the school to raise enough money to keep their budget in the green year after year. Their one concern – it required a small(ish) up front investment. In order to buy in they would have to take that money from somewhere else, and there simply wasn’t anywhere left to take from.

Lights flashed, bells sounded, and the principal jumped up with a great “ah-ha!” The money they needed to get started on this amazing program just happened to match the amount we had recently offered. He let them know of some anonymous “angel” donors who might be interested in supporting this project.

Duh.  Of course we were.

Sure, we could have bought the school a couple of fish and delayed the impeding disaster in one small area for one more year. OR, we could buy the school some fishing poles and watch them flourish long into the future.

So, in a couple of weeks when that check arrives we’ll be signing it over to our school so they can buy their first set of “fishing poles”. And we’ll be able to watch in the coming years as our small gift grows and becomes something that helps support and sustain this wonderful school until Hell freezes over and people realize that paying taxes to support education, roads, health care, police, firefighters and other basic services for their communities is actually a GOOD thing.

If you’re looking into helping sustain your school in the long-term – look into programs like the grocery store gift card fundraiser which allows schools to sell gift cards to the local grocery store and keep a % of each sale. The parents use the cards, spending the same amount on groceries that would be spending anyway but this way they are also supporting the school.

There are other successful long-term fundraising opportunities out there, but I have seen this one turn around budget crises (yes, that’s the plural of crisis, I looked it up.) for other schools, so I know that it works and am happy to support implementing it at my daughter’s school.


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Filed under Kids, Of Course I'm a Feminist

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