Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 7, 1999
Calgary school board wary of limits to fundraising
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Calgary Catholic Schools are taking a cautious approach to regulating fundraising in the district's 86 schools.
A report submitted to the school board last month recommended against establishing a district-wide policy due to a wide variety of opinions on school fundraising.
Discussions will continue in the fall.
Last year, more than $8 million was pumped into district schools from a wide array of fundraising projects.
"It's a lot of money," said Linda Wellman, board chairperson. "When you see money like that, as a board we wanted to see why, when and how often money was raised from things at the schools."
Wellman said the board asked for an administrative report on fundraising because it was concerned about moral issues surrounding the topic. "We feel there might be room for some guidelines."
The report was a product of discussions from school staff, teachers, parents and priests on the morality and effectiveness of fundraising in the schools.
"This isn't the end of it," Wellman said of the report. "It's the basis for discussion for parents and staff at each school site."
The discussions began more than a year ago when the board noticed the total amount raised by schools.
Fundraising has also been a hot topic for Bishop Frederick Henry, a strong proponent of ridding the province of video lottery terminals (VLTs).
At the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association annual convention last November, Henry said he was "mad as hell" that Catholic school trustees are allowing fundraising by school parent councils.
He urged the trustees to challenge the government to provide better funding for education in Alberta.
Since his appointment as bishop of Calgary a year ago, Henry has voiced strong opposition to gambling in any form, from VLTs to Church bingos.
He has also questioned local Church and school fundraising efforts because some have included lotteries and casino nights.
Wellman said school fundraising comes in different forms.
"When people think fundraising, they usually think selling chocolates or raising money for the school," Wellman said. "But our students do all kinds of fundraising. Some of these are for charitable reasons. There are schools which have raised money for women's shelters or the food bank."
Fundraising has paid for everything from awards banquets to band trips, Wellman said.
She added most of the money raised was targeted for a particular purpose.
"There may have been this perception that people were raising $25,000 and then sitting down and determining what to spend it on," she said.
"This money was set for something before it was raised . . . and when we looked at what the money was for, we didn't see that the schools were using (fundraising) for something out of the ordinary.
"The board isn't in a position to regulate what each school needs outside of the basic education program. One school might say they need a microwave for the lunchroom, while another might need two, so they'll go and raise money for that."