This year, the Park City School Board voted to waive student fees for all families in the district. It’s an effort to bring equitable access to all students by providing AP and Elective classes to students or families without additional fee charges. The impact on the decision carries some unintended consequences which are causing fund shortfalls for a handful of important school district partners. Carolyn Murray has this:
The Park City School District in past years raised more than $800,000 dollars in student fees for certain AP classes, Elective programs and other school activities. The school Board voted to eliminate that program from the normal back to school registration process and it’s resulted in the Parent-Teacher organizations coming up short on their fund-raising efforts.
The Ecker Hill Middle School PTO president, Melissa Garland said her board is supportive of the intent of the fee waiver decision. But, she said they’re scrambling to put together a fund raiser to make up for the shortfall. If they don’t raise the money, things like parties, teacher recognition, holiday events and spirit activities will not happen in the schools this year. “Had built into the process of fee paying each year, that some amount would go into the Parent Teacher Organization. And I learned the way the funds are gathered and then dispersed, or collected, they simply were unable to separate out funds collecting. Simply, it was not possible for us to then, or for them to continue the process where by the PTO’s could directly collect funds at the beginning of the school year from every parent. As a result, the PTO’s, all of them, are finding themselves without the usual cash infusion.” Ericha Oberg is the Park City High School Parent Teacher Student Organization President. She said they usually raise about $10,000-dollars for school activities, but they too were short this year by about 30%. The have some money left over from last year to help with the shortage. “Last year we raised just under 11,000 from parent fees. We do zero fundraising, other than our membership. WE don’t do fall festivals…you know our goal is just to collect the money, have the schools and the students dictate what they want. We’re not there to kind of be in the school, right?” Oberg said they also anticipated the changes and they had a card reader set up to take PTSO donations during registration. “We went into this year knowing we were going to have to come up with our own way to collect funds. Obviously, somebody can just wright a check and the other thing we did is we hooked up a square account. And with the administrations help over at the high school we were able to change the mailer so it went into the school packet the correct way so people could see, like we did this whole flyer that said things changed this year so make sure you pay your fees at this link. So, a lot of people did do that. We did get some before school even started or before registration started.” Executive Director of the Park City Education Foundation, Abby McNulty said they are very supportive of the efforts to make education more equitable and agree with the decision to waive fees for all students. Normally the Ed Foundation launches the Parent Appeal at the beginning of the school year and the funds they raise are used for many programs that support all Park City Schools. Because student fees were not collected, parents never accessed the donation link to the Ed Foundation. They are down by about $40,000-dollars and they will need the help of the community to make up the shortfall. “We have seen that our back to school registration fund raising effort which we call the parent appeal effort, is down. So, we rely on those funds every year to be able to provide the programming into the schools. So, we will try and make those funds up over the course of the year in some way, shape or form. I believe the school district is working towards some different type of technology platform so that next year, this ability to make donations on line exists.” McNulty said people can help get the fundraising efforts back on track by going to pcef4kids or the Park City Education Foundation web page. Lisa O’Mally, the Ecker Hill PTO Treasurer said their funds are down 85% from last year. She said Ecker Hill Middle School is conducting a fund raiser that will highlight students performing Acts of Kindness. Students will sell kindness cards to friends and family members. Their goal is for each student to raise $60.00-dollars. They will use the cards to recognize kind acts over the two-week period beginning on October 29th. Intermountain Healthcare-Park City Hospital is supporting the school with a $500 donation as part of the mental health and wellness community effort. The Ecker Hill PTO will use the money for a Color Remix Party for all students in early November. Go to anython.com/Eckerhill to make a donation to the Color for Kindness fundraiser. Donations to any of the Park City School Parent Teacher Organizations can be made on line through the district website at pcschools.us.