Private funding offers come with caveats

By on March 26, 2010

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Kaneland School District officials said they have appreciated the generous offers of funding recently made by parents and parent groups in the past several weeks to save various programs from being eliminated through the budget reduction process. However, the administration cautioned the board on Monday that private funding is not a simple, straight forward possibility.

“Those offers are, on face value, very generous, but they could raise potential conflicts over decision-making,” District Superintendent Charlie McCormick said.

Some of the concerns McCormick raised on Monday included decisions about which activities would be funded and the importance of maintaining equitable programming across the School District.

In addition, although a one-time influx of funding might be very generous, the ability to maintain the funding on a long-term basis must be considered. Last but not least, he said that competition or lobbying among staff members or parent groups about what specific programs and activities should be funded would need to be avoided.

“As benevolent and positive as the offers for funding sound, there are implications that people might not initially understand,” McCormick said.

He presented a number of guidelines and suggestions that he thought the board should consider regarding offers of private funding.

First of all, private funding of activities related to the core academic program should generally be avoided, he said. Funding that resulted in any violations of existing collective bargaining agreements could not be considered, nor would funding that created unequal athletic opportunities for boys and girls.

The board generally agreed that community groups should be discouraged from raising money for specific programs until the board had a chance to discuss the donation and agreed to accept it.

McCormick recommended that the administration get-together with Parent Teacher Organizations and other groups interested in private funding opportunities to talk about the guidelines and how best to move forward with these efforts.