Fund-Rasing Blues: For sale at your local school:
Tins of oatmeal-and-raisin cookies, big boxes of grapefruits, and chocolate bars you can break into thirds and share with everyone at the office.
Turns out, a majority of elementary school principals dislike these school fund-raisers. But they say they're necessary to keep school supplies coming in.
"Most principals view fund raising as a 'do-or-do-without' situation," said Vincent L. Ferrandino, the executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
Ninety percent of the 700 principals who responded to a recent NAESP survey said their schools raise money to supplement local, state, and federal aid.
Sixty-two percent wish they didn't have to bother.
"The only reason I think fund raising is valuable is because the results are important. But wouldn't it be great to focus solely on education?" one principal wrote.
The most common fund-raisers are book fairs, product sales, family portraits, and school carnivals, the survey found.
Most schools also receive year-round extra money by saving receipts or box tops as part of donation campaigns by businesses, agreements with retail stores, and profits from vending machines.
Often, the money pays for classroom equipment and supplies, according to the survey. Field trips and library books were also among the most common uses.
"In some cases, if they don't find the money themselves, their students go without computers, field trips, library books, and even pens and paper," Mr. Ferrandino said.
Three-fourths of the principals surveyed said the need to raise extra money had increased during the past 10 years.
Half the principals said parents had complained about the fund-raisers.
Others, though, didn't mind so much. "Fund-raisers have brought parents much closer to the school and its various educational programs," another principal wrote. "It has developed a strong school spirit and parent-involvement relationship."
Other ways that principals in the survey said they spend the extra money were for arts programs, employee salaries, and donations to local charities.
More than one-fourth of those surveyed said their schools had raised more than $10,000 a year from such sales.
Copies of the survey are available by calling the NAESP's Alexandria, Va., headquarters at (800) 386-2377. They'll fax you a free copy, and won't make you buy any candy bars, either.
—Alan Richard firstname.lastname@example.org
Vol. 19, Issue 35, Page 12