Sadly, funding cuts at our primary school are forcing them to try and find creative ways of getting funding for crucial 'luxuries' such as ITC etc. As a result, the parents are suggesting that ask for a regular (yearly or termly) contribution from all parents. It would be voluntary, set up by standing order, by any parent who can afford it.
Personally, I think it is a very sad state of affairs that this is necessary, but I would rather not get into a debate about the morals of this.
Rather, my question is to any parents/teachers/governors in schools where this already occurs, what sums to do you request, and do you know how many parents contribute? And has it reduced the money that parents also contribute to the PTA? Any advice/suggestions would be welcome. Thanks!
My school is looking at options having seen the budgets for next year. At the mo there is no regular charge / contribution / fund, but they did ask for £1 towards ingredients for cookery in the most recent D&T topic.
What many parents do not realise is how much the teachers provide out of their own pockets in order to keep things operating. My class ran out of whiteboard pens this term. The school has none left and the class budget was spent by the previous teacher (I took over in Jan). She spent it on card and pritt stick, which is great, but I've just spent my own cash on a stash of dry-wipe pens. I also buy all of the laminating pouches for resources. I noticed at the end of term that we have only 2 red pencils in the entire class and very few green ones (loads of pink though!) so I'll be buying coloured pencils during the hols too.
Year 2 ran of of normal pencils so their teacher went to Staples - she ended up with a list from other staff... all from our own pockets.
We are asked for a weekly £1 contribution for extras like baking etc, and are constantly in a fundraising merry-go-round (tombolas, raffles, discos), and get asked for additional money for extra activities, e.g. £2 for Science demonstration this Friday.
They are all 'voluntary' although I get text reminders to buy things or pay money.
We are fortunate in that we can afford these charges, and in fact I've just put in extra as I found out that we were the only ones in my son's nursery class who had paid the voluntary contributions for the science demo. (not saying to show off, I actually think it SHOULD be that way - just like taxes, those who earn more pay more).
My DH vehemently disagreed that I should have done that, he thinks that if no-one else pays then we shouldn't either - but I think that if I didn't, maybe next time they won't organise anything like that which would affect DS1 and DS2 when he goes there. I know we're lucky to have the option.
I empathise with all those families who struggle to find the money for basics, let alone luxuries like 'voluntary' contributions for schools - but maybe a fixed amount would be easier than the constant demands.
No right answer - and it's a tough line for the schools to walk with having to ask for 'voluntary' donations and then chasing for the money.
I like the idea of the honesty box - you might get more than you think.
I have two DC's in Primary. A £50 charge per child would NOT get paid. I have to save £5 a week all year round to pay for school uniform and shoes and PE kits for my DC's (I also have a Secondary aged DD). There is just no way I could pay this.
I can guarantee that if the DS's school started asking for this (which they no doubt will, they've just become an Academy, and DD's tried asking when they became an Academy), I would write the same letter I did to DD's school reminding them that repeated letters home to those parents that cannot (or choose not to) pay a 'voluntary' contribution breaches a line and becomes harassment.
I CANNOT pay a charge like this - DD's school requests £30, but I get ONE letter a year now, unlike the personalised ones I was getting before when I hadn't paid.
I could pay this charge - but then my DC's would either have school uniform that fits OR school shoes that fit, but not both...
As others have mentioned already, I think there needs to exceptionally good communication as to how the money has been spent.
The school also should be ready to listen to parents views on how they think the money should be spent and what amount is reasonable (so great that you're canvassing opinions).
I also think a 'hard sell' approach would be wrong, you can not expect parents to want to disclose all their financial details to explain why they do not wish to contribute if they don't. It might be an idea to make the contributions relatively anonymous, with any amount of contribution valued, so there is absolutely no pressure.
However the option to contribute is great, many can contribute money but not their time so it is a way for them to be involved.