AIBU to be angry that school expects parents to raise £60k?

(75 Posts)

Our voluntary aided C of England school had built two new classrooms to replace old leaky Portacabins. Important and necessary building work, granted, and we were all pleased that it went ahead. But now, after the fact, we're being told that there's £60k still outstanding and we the parents are expected to raise it.

So AIBU to think this is a bit much to ask? Suggestions are being made that we should ask family and friends to sponsor us for marathons etc. But in this economic climate, I wouldn't fee comfortable asking people to part with money for something as trivial as a school building projects.

JWIM Sun 24-Mar-13 13:10:25

Seeker the OP has said that this is a Voluntary Aided school therefore the Local Authority will not be funding capital projects. Capital funding is granted by the Diocese and only to 90% of the total. The Governing Body must pay the remaining 10%. How the 10% is funded is decided by the Governing Body - they may have a regular parent donation to a 'capital projects fund', they may fund through the school budget - possibly running a deficit budget for some years, they may have a Diocese loan that is repaid from the school budget, they may run a fundraising campaign with support from the PTA or separately from the PTA. So a PTA may decide to contribute funds raised for building classrooms but I would expect the PTA to have such a decision recorded in some way.

OP - I hope you are able to establish what has taken place. If you are unclear then it would seem that others could be too and it is perhaps an opportunity for the Governors to set out the circumstances and what funds are still to be raised. You never know, it might lead to a renewed energy for raising money.

And I hope that the new classrooms are being enjoyed by the children and staff.

INeedThatForkOff Sun 24-Mar-13 09:46:42

Going back to the OP, I'd be reluctant to sponsor an event benefiting a school's building project.

seeker Sun 24-Mar-13 09:38:48

The school budget and accounts are scrutinised and approved by the Governors- some of whom are elected by parents to represent them. Fundraising budgets are separate. PTAs are charities and have accounts which should be available for inspection- there should be a treasurer's report at every meeting.

cozietoesie Sun 24-Mar-13 08:44:08

Well there's a thing, Annie. I hear what DumSpiroSpero rightly said about gossip and speculation but, equally, I've known many many situations similar to this - where the financial affairs of an institution or group end up being handled by a small number of people (or an individual) in whom other people place trust, perhaps because they feel overwhelmed by numbers and procedures or overawed by a simple spreadsheet.

That's not to say that the people or person handling the money is going to actually be dishonest but without transparency and clear oversight they can become overly optimistic or politicised (ie they stop looking so critically at the figures and listen rather to 'what so and so says they can do for us'.)

No - one is, I think, saying that you and your fellow parents are averse to fund raising (and I'm not going to address the issue of whether parents should actually have to which is, I think. for another thread) but everyone has the right to know the context in which they're raising funds and to what end.

I'd ask for information if i were you.

seeker Sun 24-Mar-13 08:40:56

This is not how school funding works. PTAs do not raise money for classrooms. This is a capital project- the funding will have been negotiated between the head/governors and the LEA.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 24-Mar-13 08:34:34

YABU. Our local academy recently got a £1m grant for building work and is trying to match that with parental contribs. Some are wealthier than others, contributions aren't compulsory but why shouldn't families want to make a school as good as it can be?

Oh, and I imagine the accounts for the fundraising are available somewhere, but I've always trusted that the school knows what it's doing and never felt the need to have a look. Do parents usually inspect the school budget? Should I have been reading it?

Okay two things need clearing up. Yes, all I know at this point is what's being said on FB. Of course I will establish what really happened. But right now it's the weekend so I can't, and having a bit of a rant on Mumsnet about something when you don't know every tiny detail is hardly shocking or new. Lighten up, folks!

Secondly, I was referring to the building as trivial only in reference to asking people for sponsorship. If something asked me to sponsor them for a marathon to raise money for classrooms for middle class children in a leafy London commuter town, I'd fall about laughing when there are so many "real" causes I'd rather support. I didn't mean it was trivial for the school or the children.

mydoorisalwaysopen Sun 24-Mar-13 08:17:42

It sounds like the school has not actually asked the parents to raise the money. The governors have probably decided to run a deficit budget for a while. It might be worth asking what will be sacrificed to reduce the deficit.

DumSpiroSpero Sun 24-Mar-13 08:06:14

Tbh my gut reaction is to give you a biscuit for taking a load of gossip and speculation on FB as gospel, and referring to school building projects as trivial hmm.

Your school obviously has some work to do wrt transparency and consultation at least. I'd be inclined not to judge them on the financial front until you know exactly what's occurred to cause such a dramatic shortfall.

It does sound like someone may need to be called to account over this, but equally I can't help feel sad that people seem to resent raising money for their children's schools/education.

Even in fully LEA funded schools, budgets are ridiculously tight. The one I work at has had to raise £25k for permanent outdoor play equipment, even though Physical Development is part of the national curriculum, because the money simply wasn't there to do it otherwise.

I live in an area where 2 of the 4 local wards are amongst the 10% most deprived in the country, but I have never heard anyone complain about raising money to improve our schools.

Greythorne Sun 24-Mar-13 07:17:14

Well, if a mum has posted it on Facebook, it must be 100% accurate. No-one ever posts sensationalist, exaggerated crap on FB.

Oh, wait a minute.

quietbatperson Sun 24-Mar-13 07:09:55

a tender is not a couple of quotes. I could go on and explain the difference, but I'm boring myself now.

Eastpoint Sun 24-Mar-13 03:17:40

I realise the main problem is accountability but here are a few ideas for fundraising.

Does the school rent out its facilities at all? Parties in the school hall at the weekend, renting out tables & chairs for parties, car boot sale in the playground every month.

JWIM Sat 23-Mar-13 22:40:33

cozietoesie possibly, but my experience is that no matter how many times you say/write it there are still those who seem to see conspiracy/unreasonableness/fraud. As I said at the outset the OP needs to establish the facts first.

cozietoesie Sat 23-Mar-13 22:32:44

JWIM

..... we have been transparent.......

I think that that is the critical difference here.

mameulah Sat 23-Mar-13 22:30:18

YANBU If EVERYONE stopped raising money for charity then it might cause the govenment to bother themselves to be a bit more careful with our money. I think more people should object to stuff like this. It is ridiculous!

JWIM Sat 23-Mar-13 22:28:02

Governor of a VA C of E Primary School that completed a building project in 2012/13.

OP - you need to establish facts not 'Facebook' supposition about the amount the governing body has to raise and how they are planning to do it.

As for VA school building/capital projects....

Capital projects like new classrooms are not funded by the Local Authority. The Governing Body makes a bid to their Diocese for funding for the building project. The cost includes the building work, project management fees (can be independent could be LA service bought in) and VAT at 20%. The Govening Body has to contribute 10% of the total cost. A projeCt of the value indicated by a 60k 10% would almost certainly have been subject to tender. I am not surprised the total value is as high as suggested - the rigour of school buildings projects is very different from getting an extension on your house - and I have done both.

Where possible the Governing Body might try to plan for such capital expenditure and accumulate the 10% element in advance. BUT in 2012/13 the funding from the DfE meant the project had to be agreed and completed in the year - including the 10% element being funded by the Governing Body. I can tell you it makes for a few sleepless nights.

I am guessing that the Governing Body decided to take the Diocese grant available - even though they still had the 10% to accumulate - because there was a review of capital spending and no guarantee that the system would continue after 2012/13 or that there would be much in the way of capital for Dioceses. The Diocese may be lending the 10%, the Governing Body may be covering it through the school budget, there may be a fundraising project to meet the 10%.

Our fundraising was supported very generously by local community and school PTA and we have been transparant about funds raised to date.

OP we were fortunate to have the support of our County Council as well as the Diocese - your fundraising committee might approach your County Councillor.

And remember - there are new permanent classrooms for the children and they may not have been built ever had the Governing Body not seized the opportunity.

cozietoesie Sat 23-Mar-13 21:19:14

Er excuse me, Annie but what do you mean by ...no facts beyond being told we raised enough to cover the contribution......

Aren't the fundraising accounts circulated (or made available) to all parents? Is this some private members' only party going on ?

Again, just to reiterate I know nothing beyond some idle speculation on Facebook, but you're all giving me good ideas of questions to ask if turns out we genuinely are expected to find the cash through fundraising.

The fundraising committee made £10k last year, which I should imagine just about covers the voluntary contribution with a few extras (wild guesswork based on no facts beyond being told we raised enough to cover the contribution).

LineRunnyEgg Sat 23-Mar-13 20:43:00

Actually, who was the contractor? That should be public information.

LineRunnyEgg Sat 23-Mar-13 20:41:38

I woudn't get my roof fixed on my house without at least 2 quotes.

quietbatperson the school may not need to tender, but in order to show financial prudence, the school should at the least be getting a few quotes in for the works. And full costings, including where they think the money should be coming from.

sleeplessbunny Sat 23-Mar-13 20:00:12

So are the diocese currently covering the £60k in the form of a loan that will need to be repaid? I find it hard to believe the school is unable to pay its suppliers to the tune of £60k, that would surely result in litigation?
My (limited) knowledge of diocese loans would suggest the timescales for repayment should be pretty generous, so it wouldn't seem unreasonable to achieve through fundraising, over say 5-10 years.

quietbatperson Sat 23-Mar-13 19:50:33

Actually I doubt what hopefloats says about it needing to have been tendered (not the other bit, that makes sense). The OJEU threshold for Works at which you need to run a tender is about 4.3m. Local rules apply with regards to accounting for large expenditure and competition that may come under the thresholds, and a Voluntary Aided school can to a certain extent cock-a-snook at the Local Authority if it so chooses, but if you are only spending £10k then running a full tender would be an expensive way of finding a builder or any service/supplies/works provider.

I think though that suggesting parents should stump up £60k is royally taking the piss, and if this is the line that is actually taken by the school, then I would be talking directly to the Local Authority about the financial management of the school.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 23-Mar-13 18:45:49

It's the VA bit that has caused the problem. The LA has no obligation to fund capital projects in VA schools. The diocese pays 90% and the governors have to raise 10%. This happened in the school I used to work in. It converted to VA, then the £100,000 improvement project that the LA was due to fund was cancelled and responsibility for paying for it passed to the diocese and the school.
I can't believe the building work went ahead without the governors having the money to pay for it, though.

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