Quit with all the fundraising already!

Ontario schools are fundraising more than ever for "non-essentials" like computers and playgrounds. But is this really the best way to fill the funding gap?

By Kristy Woudstra
Quit with all the fundraising already!

Photo: Pinktag/iStock

"Mama, did you fill out the form?"
"Mama, we have to go to my school's Fun Fair on Saturday!"
"Mama, everyone else has already brought in their money."

AHHHHHH!! I beg for mercy. I just can't keep up with all the pizza lunches, milk and book orders, bake sales, fun fairs, volunteer requests, magazine sales, silent auctions and potlucks at my daughter's school. My fridge has disappeared behind all the paperwork, reminding me of deadlines and who to make the cheque out to. 

I don't know what it's like in other provinces, but overwhelming parents simply can't be the best way for schools to fill the financial gap. Premier McGuinty, I demand that we rethink the school fundraiser.

Ontario parents are deluged with asks for donations and we're giving to the tune of $500 million according to a recent news report. My daughter is only in the first grade, but my soon-to-be stepson is nearing junior high. I recently read in The Toronto Star that it actually gets worse in high school with many teens being charged course fees for art, phys ed and music.

Besides testing parents' sanity, there are a lot of other problems with this fundraising system. One is equity. Some schools raise nothing while another raises half a million dollars. Another is that the schools are competing for the same dollars as sports teams, day cares, dance troupes, etc. Parents can only afford to give so much while trying to save for ever increasing post-secondary tuitions.

Sure the provincial government has recently put guidelines in place around fundraising in schools. But that only addresses an already problematic solution that most of us hoped was temporary. It doesn't touch the root problem: schools have a serious funding gap.

So what's the answer? More taxes? Further education cuts? Close down schools? Increase class sizes? Corporate donations? I simply don't know. But we parents cannot fill the gap one cookie and pizza slice at a time.

Does your child's school have a lot of fundraisers?

This article was originally published on Jun 08, 2012

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