I usually refrain from involving myself in "political" conversations, but I was recently told of a discussion on social media about the fairness and equity of school auctions, and I am feeling compelled to speak up. Hopefully I do so in a way that is informative and not emotional or bossy - that's certainly my intent anyhow.
Next Friday is the Queen Anne Elementary Auction. It is because of this auction that I have the amazing good fortune to work with our students and teachers in my role as a Math Specialist. It is because of this auction that our students and staff have the wonderful support of our Reading Specialist, Ms. McCormick. It is because of this auction that our students, staff, and parents have the indispensable knowledge and expertise of Ms. Skoog at our fingertips.
It is because of this auction that Queen Anne Elementary has benefitted this year from the following resources:
*Learning Ally (an audio book program) which helped support many of our Global
Reading Challenge participants this year.
*Professional Development money which allows our teachers to expand their
knowledge, to learn new things, and/or to spend outside time collaborating with
*Financial support for our SEL program.
*Additional funds for field trips and Project Based Learning
*Guest authors such as this year's award winning Javaka Steptoe
*Theater performances such as the 3 shows this year by Book-It
Auctions at schools with higher income populations often end up raising a much larger, and disproportionate, amount of money than those at schools with lower income populations. Understandably this doesn't feel right or sit well for many of us. This does not mean that schools like QAE do not need to fundraise. Schools with a higher percentage of lower economic students receive government funding for various academic programs and services - and rightly so - while those with higher economic populations do not. Without the funds raised by the auction, Jog-a-thon, and direct donations, our school would not have academic support programs in reading and math, or a school counselor 3 days a week.
I've recently been thinking about a conversation that was taking place years ago, while my oldest was in Elementary School, about the inequities of fundraising within the Seattle School District. PTSA groups were trying to find a balance between the haves and the have nots. There were a few different ideas being discussed: all of the $ raised at every school would be put into one large pot and then distributed equally or by a pre-determined percentage; higher-income schools would give a certain percentage of the $ raised to lower-income schools; none of the $ raised would be allowed to pay for a certificated staff member. And here we are - at least 6 if not more years later - with no difference in the fundraising system at SPS. What happened I wonder?
Please know that my objective with this post is not to impose my beliefs upon you, or to tell you what to do, or to scare you ... it's just to provide some additional information on the ways that our school benefits from the auction (and fundraising in general), AND to hopefully inspire a discussion about how we might do things differently in the future. Imagine ... the QAE community becoming pioneers in equitable fundraising among SPS schools!
That being said, the auction this Friday is the last fundraising event of the year. It will help determine what programs and services will be available at QAE next year. It will help our Building Leadership Team make decisions while they work on the budget and staffing for the 2017-2018 school year. By supporting the auction, you are supporting all of this and more ... THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts, and the tips of our pencils!
It is because of your generous support that we are able to meet the needs of our students, your children, the way that we do AND to offer the programs that make QAE such a special place to be. I am blessed to be a part of this community and to be able to spend my days with your children every day! Again ... THANK YOU!
- Lara Francisco