BY KARISSA MILLER

Iredell-Statesville Board of Education members are considering a new policy that would establish restrictions for school employees who want to launch a crowdfunding campaign on behalf of the school system or any individual I-SS school.

Crowdfunding is the process of raising money for a project or cause by soliciting contributions from a large number of people on the internet. It’s typically using websites like GoFundMe or DonorsChoose.

The policy, introduced to the board for a first reading this month, authorizes employees to engage in crowdfunding activities within the confines established by the policy.

At this time, no action has been taken by the school board. The board was recently informed of what they need to consider regarding drafting a formal crowdfunding policy.

Chief Finance Officer Melissa Wike introduced Policy #7360/8225 entitled “Crowdfunding on behalf of the school system” to the board and said that it addresses some concerns of school finance officers and superintendents.

One concern is the potential to denigrate the school system. Essentially when a teacher puts a request for funding out there, they are saying the school system is not provided what is needed, which is not appropriate, Wike explained.

Another concern, Wike said, is there’s no mechanism to track how crowdfunding dollars are spent. When a teacher or staff sets up an account, the funds are transferred to the bank account of the person who created the account.

Here are some of the main highlights of the five-page policy:

Section A: Establishes a default rule that crowdfunding on behalf of the school systems is prohibited unless approved in writing.

Section B: Specifies the information required to request approval of a crowdfunding campaign.

Section C: Establishes the process for the approval of proposed crowdfunding campaigns and specifies board-determined dollar amounts for which the building principal and superintendent have approval authority.

Section D: Establishes the board’s approval criteria for crowdfunding campaigns and its right to terminate any previously approved crowdfunding campaigns and its right to terminate any previously approved crowdfunding campaign or refuse any donation for any reason at any time.

Section E: Directs the superintendent or designee to develop a list of approved crowdfunding websites that meet board-specified criteria; the criteria include that the website has a policy requiring all donations to do directly to the school system.

Section F: Establishes requirements for receipt and use of monetary and in-kind donations and provides that all donations obtained through crowdfunding belong to the school system.

Section G: Requires the employee to file a written report with the building principal once the donations have been utilized detailing how the donations were used and how students benefited.

Wike mentioned that school Parent Teacher Organizations will not be affected by this policy. The policy would apply to groups like robotics and school-based clubs.

Feedback

Board members questioned the need for crowdfunding.

“I think it would be really simple just to not allow it,” Chairman Martin Page said.

Other board members have pointed out that the district and the community provide many grants for teachers to apply for throughout the year to fund new projects in the classroom.

District officials said that they will discuss the information this month with their principals. Typically, the board will vote to adopt a new policy after a second reading.

The Superintendent and school principals are responsible for making sure that the people affected by the policy changes are aware of new policies approved by the board.

Alternative source of funding

Having the option to crowdfund has been beneficial for some teachers.

For example, at Harmony Elementary School, the school used DonorsChoose crowdfunding platform to fund a lettuce growing wall. This provided students with additional hands-on learning activities. As a result, the school is a USDA approved site that is allowed to use the lettuce they grow in school lunches.

4 thoughts on “I-SS board considering policy to restrict personnel use of crowdfunding campaigns for schools

  1. “they are saying the school system is not provided what is needed, which is not appropriate, “? Every class in every school has to do constant fundraising! Every teacher pays for items out of their own pocket! How about funding the schools better!

  2. Tina Rodriguez says:

    Wow. They think that the school supplies all that the teachers need. They obviously don’t visit the schools or the locker rooms. Sometimes these things are set up to get things each sports department needs. More teachers spend their own money out of pocket and more athletic parents are asked to buy their own uniforms to get new ones. Cheerleaders get uniforms that are too big or too small. These people on the board need to spend a little more time in the schools to know the facts. This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard. NO THE SCHOOL SYSTEM DOES NOT PROVIDE WHAT IS NEEDED. What an ignorant thing to say. Have you seen new teachers classrooms. Get out of your boardrooms and go visit the schools before you pass such an idiotic rule. Parents that are involved already know the school doesn’t provide what the kids need. Just like your programs for laptops wouldnt cost the parents anything…and you will provide children with backpacks.Tell us more.

  3. Ashlee Robinette says:

    This can not be serious! Do these Board Members ever set foot in a classroom? Or talk to Teachers? I am a parent of 3 kids in ISS and volunteer in the schools. ALL classrooms in every school are in serious need. Surely they don’t think ISS provides everything our teachers need?! Crowdfunding is a great resource to fill in what they do not provide.

  4. NC school systems will never provide all the needs students, teachers, coaches, classrooms and teams need.The state and counties are not about to increase education taxes. Let them continue to fund raise. Place funds into accounts not owned by a private person or persons.

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