Please, don’t ask for anything more.
That’s the message that was sent out by Whitehall Central School Superintendent James Watson last week as he announced a “freeze” on school organizations fundraising throughout the rest of the school year.
“What we decided to do is put a hold on fundraising,” said Watson. “In consideration of the difficult budget year that is shaping up, the feeling was that the community, in facing their own individual financial challenges, that we should freeze any fundraising at the school.”
In a letter to staff members, Watson said the move was made to help relieve any pressure people may feel when it comes to contributing to a student-based club or organization.
“In this small way, we can relieve pressure on parents and community members from any financial burden, although voluntary, that they may feel to purchase items or donate to students and school activities,” said Watson in the letter.
“Even though it is not said, there is a sort of un-spoken pressure because it is for a school organization or activity,” Watson added. “It puts and additional pressure on parents and community members to contribute and we are just trying to relieve any additional financial burdens at this time.”
Watson said as the school has continued to look at the bleak 2010-11 budget picture, the school will be facing a drop in state aid of more than three-quarters of a million dollars.
“The $778,000 figure is it,” said Watson. “When we looked at the budget, we broke out the federal stimulus funding, but it was already included into their figures.”
Watson said the decision will not affect current fundraising efforts.
“Any pre-approved fundraiser or donation collection activity, which is already under way or approved for the future, will be exempt,” said Watson, who added in his letter to school staff that “I regret any inconvenience this may cause your club/class/activity, however. … no additional fundraising requests will be approved.”
Currently, the Whitehall Drama Club is promoting a fundraiser for the annual basket party to support its upcoming production in March, which Watson said was already pre-approved and will still happen.
Watson said he felt the highest-profile event left on the school calendar, the annual junior prom, should already have the necessary funding.
“I would think that at this point, with everything being pre-ordered, the juniors have already collected enough for the prom,” said Watson.
As for the budget, Watson said the school would be meeting with local representatives, but that the outlook may not be bright.
“Normally, we get together with Sen. Betty Little in early March,” said Watson. “But they are going to be getting pounded by everybody. They know the urgency of what the schools in the state are facing without us having to remind them.”