School fundraising policy changed

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The school board's controversial decision against approving some of the fundraisers presented at its August meeting was modified to everyone's satisfaction at the board meeting this month.

The policy, as the board affirmed in August, says, "Fundraising activities .... shall be for the purpose of supplementing funds for established school programs and not for supplanting funds which are the responsibility of the public."

This excluded raising money for UNICEF, Ronald McDonald House, and other worthy causes, and provoked a flood of phone calls to board members.

"It's a hot topic," Board Chairman Mike Keny said during the Sept. 9 meeting.

Board member Curt Denton said, "It all got confused.

"We're trying to do what's right," Denton said, "but it was blown way out of proportion."

Policy committee chairwoman Ann Tears provided a solution. She found a clause in the Williamson County school system's policy on fundraisers that allows community service projects. That section of the policy, as read to the board by Tears, says, "The Board wishes to encourage the involvement of students in civic and charitable endeavors for the betterment of our community. Therefore, community service projects are permitted if they are student PTO/PTA/Booster club led. The principal must approve all community service projects initiated. Some examples of these might be Angel Tree, can drives, blood drives, environmental community projects, etc."

Board member Randy Perryman agreed "100 percent."

School board attorney Sam Jackson saw it as a solution.

"I think it does fix your problem," Jackson said.

Board member Barbara Kennedy also agreed and pointed out that some activities, like Angel Tree, don't involve money at all.

Board members unanimously voted in favor of a motion to add Williamson County's policy on community service projects to Marshall County's policy.

Ginger Hardison of Cornersville High School had requested a place on the agenda to address the board on the subject of fundraisers. Her supporting letter emphasized that community service involvement is both necessary for the students and beneficial for the community.

The board's decision eliminated the necessity to argue for fundraisers, and Hardison thanked board members and said, "We hope to get started again quickly."

Craig Blackwell was also on the agenda to address the board, and spoke on behalf of the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Board. Blackwell requested permission to use the old gym and auditorium at Forrest School on Saturday, Dec. 4, for his group's "Christmas festivities," which raises funds for the park's sports facilities. The policy on community use of school facilities states, "Any for-profit group that wishes to use school facilities ... must have special Board approval."

"It's very good," board member Randy Perryman said. "It's vital to the community."

Harvey Jones Jr., the other board member from Chapel Hill, seconded Perryman's motion to approve Blackwell's request, and the vote was unanimouse.

Perryman and Jones also made and seconded the motion to have Ameresco do a study and submit a proposal for energy savings in the school buildings. Jackson assured board members this could be done, even though they had signed a letter of intent with Siemens for a similar study and proposal last year.

Perryman said his maintenance committee wanted to recommend using Ameresco, but delayed because they didn't know where they stood with Siemens.

The vote was 8-1 in favor of Perryman's motion, with Kristen Gold casting the only "no" vote.