Recession Mama

{September 15, 2009}   Fundraising in a Recession

By Heather

If I told you how much we had to pay in property tax last year you would probably gasp. I know I did. I also nearly cried when I wrote the check. I am grateful we could cover it. But still…. it hurt.

Much of that check went to the public school district where my son now attends kindergarten. “Well at least we don’t have to cover private school tuition,” we thought. School was covered by the property tax.


But not really. We soon discovered that because of the “Robin Hood Act” in our state , 70 percent of the district’s tax dollars actually end up in other schools.  That leaves parents to cover the rest. And thus the fundraising has begun.

Every school does this. You probably did it too. As a kid, I hocked candy, books, popcorn, ornaments and other crap to my neighbors and relatives. My next door neighbor, Mr. Hamburger, never failed to contribute. He even forgave me the time I collected his money and forgot to turn in his order. I got into BIG trouble with my parents.  (I had to work for the money to pay him back)

I can now add wrapping paper saleswoman to my list of items. Our first fundraiser is to sell wrapping paper. There’s also something call “Scot Bucks.” But I haven’t figured out what those are yet. It sounds like Monopoly money to me.

I’ve also purchased fundraising goods such as bumper stickers, yard signs and t-shirts. In November, the parents will hold fundraising auction. They’re asking for donations from $500 to $10,000 or more. GULP!  

Yes, we live in a highly ranked, highly desirable school district, but our school will not get many of the basic teaching tools  unless parents pay for them. The same parents who’ve already paid a fortune in property tax.

The fundraising efforts of mom’s and dad’s help pay for supplemental teacher salaries, all technology needs, sports equipment, school supplies, art and music programs, and facility upkeep.  

pencil erasers

The elementary school is in an old charming building in the middle of the neighborhood. But the community has outgrown it. So many of the classes are held in portable buildings. Our tax money will not be used to add much needed extra space. Parents are raising money for that too.

We feel grateful and fortunate to live in such a great community so I don’t want to complain, but I do see a potential problem. We’re in a recession. So many parents will not be able to pitch in financially this year or next. I don’t think this will send our wonderful school into ruin. But it could affect what new teaching tools could be purchased for our kids in the future.

But it is what it is. And whining won’t solve the problem. So I guess I better dust off my sales skills and get selling.

Wrapping paper anyone?

Katy says:

I’ll take some! I always HATED selling stuff door to door. I was a terrible sales person, and my parents hated it too. They ended up buying a lot of my stuff.

Lydia says:

let me know when you start selling M&Ms! 😉

Heather says:

You got it Lydia. Katy, I’ll put ya down for a bundle of wrapping paper. (ha!)

Judy Hamburger Echenrode says:

As the daughter of the above-mentioned Mr. Hamburger, I will attest that my folks were always good about fund raisers. I realize now that they really didn’t have the money, but my mom (or dad) couldn’t turn ANY one away–especially not adorable-cute-neighbor Heather. What I do here in OK is ask the school office how much profit they get from each item sold. It’s usually only a buck or 2. (which is ridiculous!) They ask each kid to sell (enter number here)a certain number…If it’s 10 items at $2.00 profit each, I just write the school a check for $20 and say we won’t be selling. We’ve only been here 3.5 years and can’t sell at the office and don’t have family so I am NOT selling. Now if they have a car wash, etc, yes, I’ll work, but I HATE selling all that crap!

Carla says:

Yes. I’ll buy a roll. I always buy from friends who are helping their little ones’ schools. It really does take a village, mama, even in tough times. I am not a fan of Robin Hood, but our leaders haven’t been able to come up with any other plan to pay for public education. I don’t get it. Wasn’t the Texas Lottery supposed to fix everything? You see some of these lower income schools and you just wonder where the hell the money is going…and who exactly is in charge of dishing it out. Ugh, don’t get me started on Robin Hood, girl. But you do what you have to do for those precious little peas…and pound the pavement selling wrapping paper! Love it. And yes, seriously, sign me up. I’m all out. –c

Heather B. says:

Thanks ladies! Judy that’s not a bad idea. I may try it.

Jennifer says:

Aunt Jenny is good for a roll or 2 of paper : ) With our own kids we took up doing the same thing Judy talked about, we just write a check once a year to whatever organization (usually Band Boosters) and be done with it. As an educator we do truly appreciate the fundraising efforts of our parents. I have to admit though that it is very sad we have to send our kiddos door to door so we can get some much needed materials. The PTO at my school was able to fund a Science and Design lab for us this year…. some new MAC computers with all the cool design software and some other Science materials. We make sure Parents see what their money went for, we put the lab in the classroom right next to the front office, with a big sign….. YOUR PTO $$ at Work!! Just on a side note….. most school districts did receive some Stimulus Funds, I know at my school it has been a little like Christmas…… for now anyway……

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