I am sharing a post from Tuesday because it raises a question that I have yet to resolve in my own mind: Should school funding formulas take into account that some schools get more support from their parents, local businesses and neighborhoods?
If a school system knows that parents at certain schools can rally and raise money for new playground equipment, band instruments or classroom supplies, should more tax dollars go to the schools that receive no financial help from parents?
I can argue both sides. Deny the parent-active school money and it appears the school is being punished for having involved parents. Keep funding equal across schools no matter the parental contributions and you end up with uneven resources as the schools without active parents get less.
Many of you will maintain that the solution is simple: Push the parents at all schools to get involved, raise money and support their schools. But that is easier in communities with higher household incomes and two-parent households. It is hard to ask a single parent who is struggling to pay rent and light bills to lead a committee to raise $10,000 to buy computers.
I go back to one of my first sticker shock experiences with private school costs. Fifteen years ago, I was visiting a friend and noticed that she had a note on her fridge from the class parent of her daughter’s private kindergarten class. The note asked each parent to send in $100 to buy supplies for the class holiday parties that year.
I was stunned at the amount, but my friend said she received such requests all the time from her tony Atlanta private school. I thought about my own conflicts as a class parent in a public school asking for $10 from parents for the teacher gift.
What’s reasonable to ask of parents varies with the school. In my town, there are parents who could write a check for $100 this moment to the schools without hesitating or looking at their checking balance. But there are other parents who can’t write a check for $10 until Friday when they get paid.
Can the school systems weigh parent income and fund-raising capacity when they apportion funds? Should they?
Here is the comment that prompted my musings about parent involvement:
For many of us in the Oak Grove / Lakeside district, we have worked long and hard to raise money, build nature trails, paint, landscape – do all we could because the School Board would not give us money to do so. One school board member told me when I was trying to replace the 30 year old stage curtains in the gym where the LHS orchestra played (not in an auditorium – a gym) that Lakeside had everything and “her students” needed money and we could go out and raise it. That school board member is running today and I hope she is defeated. All the schools in the North end of the county are over crowded as families move out and young families move in to the neighborhoods. Lakeside is finally being renovated after Tucker was completed. Now, they want to move us out? Why so far to Druid Hills? It makes no sense.
–By Maureen Downey, AJC Get Schooled blog