Monday, June 11, 2007

Why Not Adopt A Classroom?

Since Chairman of the School Board in Stafford County, Robert Belman, first introduced the Adopt-A-Classroom program to Stafford Public Schools, classroom adoptions continue to flourish and are up this year with a total of 204 adoptions and 1,022 classrooms registered. Student enrollment is only slightly higher than Spotsylvania with 26,521 on September 30, 2006.

This increase is realized since last year's great showing of 169 total adoptions for the 2005-06 school year and 170 total adoptions for the 2004-05 school year. Total annual donations as of March 14, 2007 equal $95,176, with a cumulative collection of $225,000 since inception! At this level of contribution, every single Stafford County student has received some kind of direct benefit from this generosity.

Spotsylvania County has only 58 classrooms registered and only FOUR adoptions since 1998 totaling only $7,050 with student enrollment now at 24,229 as of September 30, 2006. Some teachers know nothing of the program and how easy it is to register their class to receive funds, while others speak of unconfirmed stories of being "told" to not participate by management.

One may argue as Republicans that we donate to the classroom every time we pay our increasing property taxes– and rightfully so with an average of 9% annual budget increases for a decade now while new student enrollment is down to a trickle, but the best part about this program is that 100% of the donated funds goes into the classroom and is completely voluntary.

While businesses of all sizes are typically the donors of such programs, there's no stopping a philanthropic individual from participating at a common $500 per year baseline donation for a whole class to be named in your honor.

Nationally speaking, teachers give an average of $1,200 of their personal money toward school supplies each year so the children do not go without. Coupled with parents who can afford the growing school supply list, and often over-buy so their child can share extras with his or her friends, this is saying something about the gap which remains after privately-funded supplies to be consumed added to the the publicly funded supplies still needs filling.

When teachers have to dip in to their own pockets after both those sources are exhausted, it's time for others to step up lest we cut even more programs out of the curriculum just to save on crayons and glue.

If Stafford can collect a quarter-million dollars in donations from willing businesses, generous individuals and teachers willing to participate in this great program by a simple act of a single School Board member's initiative; it remains a wonder to me why Spotsylvania leadership lags so far behind.

With such a shining example of how things could be done right across the river– can we do better for our county's kids?

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