The economic downturn has impacted one and all. Every state in US has been struggling to balance their budget. In the bargain, public schools have suffered tremendously. Budgets have been slashed, staff reduced, programs canceled.
For those who could afford or prefer private schools, the impact has been less visible. But for the vast majority that has depended on public school system, it has been stressful times. Schools have been scampering to retain essential programs and staff despite the financial constraints. Also a big challenge has been to keep the classrooms to a manageable size and ensure the students are getting the attention.
So given the strain on the public funds, if you were wondering how you could help the public school system, here are some ideas
- Box Tops: If you have not heard about the Box Tops for Schools program you can learn more about them out here. All you have to do is collect the box top labels from cereals, beverages, snacks, food items that you already buy at Warehouse, Food Chains, Chain Stores and give them to schools. Each box top gives 5 cents to the school. My daughter’s school collected $500 dollars worth of box tops last year. That is enough to buy stationery for two classrooms.
But, I don’t have any kids going to public school
Never mind, you can still help the public school in your neighborhood. Consider it paying-it-forward. Statistics have shown that if the schools in the neighborhood improve their grades, the real-estate values in that neighborhood appreciates. So you might end up recouping much more than what you contribute.
- Donations in Kind to Teachers: If you were not aware, you should know this. Each class teacher buys stationary needed for the entire calendar year with her own money. For a class room of 20 students, a teacher spends on an average of anywhere from $500-$800 per year on stationery. So if you think it is not too much of a strain on you, consider donating stationary worth $100 or thereabouts to the teacher of your child’s class. Just 5 parents can pay for the entire need for the year. In fact, if you pool money with fellow parents it should not come to $30 per parent in a class of 20. Just remember, the teachers are paid peanuts for the yeoman effort they put in, in shaping your child’s future.
- S.H.A.R.E.S Card: This is another program that most people are not aware of. The coalition of grocers Lucky, Save Mart, Smart Foods and Food Maxx have come together to give back to schools. About 3% of what you spend in their stores gets paid to the school of your choice. If your school is not registered talk to the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) at your school. You can also find more information about the program here. For those who do not have kids going to public school you can still participate and contribute to your neighborhood school.
- Scholastic: Scholastic is well known for its book sales, fairs and sponsorship of educational programs. For every book purchase you make through your school, the class room or the school library gets free books. Usually Scholastic offers books at a discount compared to other retailers and most of the sales are made through schools. Consider buying books through the school and also encourage friends and family to route their book purchases through your child’s school.
- Target REDcard: This is by no means a recommendation to get an additional credit card. But, if you happen to be in the market for a (store) credit card and you are a frequent Target shopper, this is one card that gives back to the school of your choice a percentage of every dollar you spend. Check here for more information on the Target REDcard. Here is a sample – with just 20 enrollees, my local school has benefited from this program.
There are other ways to help your local schools that desperately need help. You can
- Volunteer your time in the classrooms. I know of a grandma, whose grandson graduated from the local elementary school years ago, volunteers (full-time) at my son’s kindergarten classroom to help the teacher with organizing things. Managing 20+ kids is handful, they will appreciate all the help they can get.
- Help with field trips and other activities
- You can also join the local PTA and help in shaping the future of your local school.