Friday, August 23, 2013

Parents buy classroom supplies in bulk

When CMS gave the grand tour of Grand Oak Elementary,  I was struck by the sight of PTA volunteers unloading crates of Lysol,  copy paper and other classroom supplies.

PTA president Marissa Gilbert said the parents and kids weren't just helping with heavy lifting.  They bought the goods in bulk,  an approach that ensures teachers and students will have all the supplemental supplies they need.  I've heard of parents getting individual "wish lists"  from teachers seeking such items as Kleenex and hand sanitizer,  but this was the first I'd heard of bulk-buying.

Sloan Lorino, 12, hauls supplies at Grand Oak

Apparently this is old hat at many schools,  including Torrence Creek Elementary,  where most of the Grand Oak students and families came from.  But for folks like me who haven't bought supplies in the 21st century,  here's how it works:  Teachers at each grade level prepare lists of classroom needs,  such as hand wipes and reams of paper,  and items students will need,  such as markers,  glue sticks and pencil bags. Families have the option of making a bulk purchase,  with prices ranging from $50 to $75,  depending on the grade level,  Gilbert said.  They can also choose to buy their own items,  but Gilbert said well over half the 600 students at Grand Oak went the bulk route.  This year the PTA decided to  "round up"  on the price to raise money for buying books for the library and classrooms,  she added.

I've heard parents gripe about being asked to pay for supplies in schools that are already funded by their tax dollars.  But Gilbert says the bulk-ordering plan is popular.  "I haven't heard anything but,  'Thank you for doing this again,' " she said.

Here's another surprise for me:  In some struggling districts,  schools solicit parent donations to hire staff and pay teacher stipends  (read education writer Emily Richmond's blog about that topic here).  I've never heard of that happening in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools or nearby districts.  I asked CMS lawyers if there's a legal reason for that.

"I am unaware of any statutory or policy limits,"  responded General Counsel George Battle III.  "At the risk of speculating way outside my lane, as a  practical matter,  it seems that it would be difficult to fund personnel out of parental gifts due to sustainability, variance by school and other issues."


Wiley Coyote said...

CMS already has it toe in the water by requiring some parents to pay for their children to play sports.

I've always contended that it's against the law - or if not should be - to force one group to pay to play while tax dollars are still being used to keep sports programs in the schools and other kids get to play for free.

Adding insult to injury is the fact CMS has no clue as to who really qualifies for the free stuff.

It's double dipping.

Either cover sports for all kids as an education experience, make all kids pay to play or eliminate them altogether.

Shamash said...

Also, don't forget the sales and stock up for next year.

I treat school supplies just like Halloween and Christmas decorations.

They are best purchased in the days AFTER the big event.

I guarantee you that you will NOT use 40 NO. 2 pencils the first day of school.

So look for the sales afterwards.

Also, it is best to donate "wish list" items directly to your teacher and let the teacher use them for ALL the kids in the local classrooms.

As for OTHER school supply "donations"...

Just be glad you weren't at this "free school supply" event:

This is exactly why we stopped "donating" supplies for the "needy" in general.

It seems that some of them develop a sense of entitlement to these things that others usually pay for.

Especially when the donors are faceless and removed from the recipients by some outside third party.

Free breakfast, free sports, free iPads and free school supplies for everyone (or at least for the most troublesome and/or troubled minorities) will make this country great again.

Anonymous said...

I don't have as much of a problem with the Pay to Play sports issue because it is an "after" school program, not part of the educational school day.

I do have a problem with CMS wanting parents to buy I-pads and I-phones for their children (we won't because we are philosophically opposed to it)to bring to school everyday. They are a distraction in the classroom and one more thing for the teachers to monitor and manage. Parents are buying into it because they are afraid of their kids falling behind socially, and buying into the notion that these devices will help their children academically.

Apparently CMS is not aware, or choosing to ignore the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of 1-2 hours of screen time per day TOTAL, for all children.

Shamash said...

Anon 8:39am

Fortunately, though, the pediatricians have nothing bad to say about the

Dictaphone Electronic Classroom

Which is why I firmly support the use of Dictaphones with Dictabelt technology in the classroom.

Don't expose your children to excessive screen time when all they really need for success in school (and society) is a good Dictabelting...

Anonymous said...

Shamash 8:25 Don't forget passing grades too, regardless of your performance and efforts in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

I like the reference to the school systems allowing parents and sponsors to fund teachers. CMS continues to lose its relevance in the community as they continue to force schools to 40 to 50 students in a classroom (so bad that kids have to sit in the floor) while other schools still have classes in the 10 to 15 student range.

CMS ivory tower however is thrilled the NC Legislature is driving public education policies. CMS realizes it is unable to turnaround many of the schools and students so they need this outside influence to fall back on and to blame for their failures.

Daddy Daycare said...

How about cull the herd at the top by 20%. There would be plenty of funds "leftover" to hire more teachers, teacher assistants and a few pencils.

Anonymous said...

Teachers, we would all like to hear your perspectives on the Pep rally yesterday. Where are you?

Wiley Coyote said...


Sports cost CMS in 2011 - High-school athletics has a $3.4 million budget covered by county money, while middle-school sports is budgeted for $1.25 million.

With all the harping over assistants losing their jobs and hours being cut, nearly $ million dollars would be better spent in the classroom.

As I said earlier, some parents are getting hit twice.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:26am

Sounds like "separate but unequal".

How can that be?

Anonymous said...

Ann, I thought there was a question asked or article written during the initial recession\school closings\teacher cutbacks about the possibility of the PTA raising funds to pay for teachers or other personnel and it was determined that would not be allowed or legal. Ashley Holmes

Anonymous said...

In regards to the new school mentioned, who is purchasing the SmartBoards for every class? Will it be the district or the PTA?

Wiley Coyote said...


Look at Project LIFT with $55 million in private monies being given to teachers in bonuses and who knows what else....

Anonymous said...

Nothing like this topic to get the "we don't need school sports crowd" awake and alive....

Fortunately Arne Duncan and company haven't made participation mandatory for every child, regardless of the amount of effort they put forward.

If they were to do to school athletics what they're now doing to the academics, every game would end with each team having points whether or not they scored any. Last night's Independence game wouldn't have been 49-0, it likely would have been 99-50 since each team would have to start with 50 points.

Be careful what you wish for folks, they'll muck up the athletics, too.

Wiley Coyote said...


Part of the article talks of money from parents or parent groups to help fund teachers and other staff.

My point about sports is that tax dollars pay for teachers/coaches to manage sports programs in addition to the money parents pay for their kids to play a sport, because according to CMS, without the pay to play rip-off, they would have to cut sports.

I have no problem cutting sports.

Shamash said...

Anon 10:33am.

Oh, come on.

They'll never cripple athletic programs like they do academics in our schools.

Can you imagine the riots if they had NCLB for sports?

Oh my, just imagine...

We'd have short, fat and clumsy kids playing varsity basketball with an automatic 20 points added as soon as they got on the court.

The immigrants from India, China, and Vietnam would wring their hands over their children's "performance gap" in American football.

The parents of future doctors, lawyers, and engineers would be protesting about the lack of high paying professional sports jobs for their children due to the inadequacy of their "coaches" and gym equipment.

Nope, not gonna happen. Not at this juncture.

The top athletes will ALWAYS get "the best" while others get the scraps.

Because that's NOT discrimination.

After all, sports are "competitive" and build character and help keep otherwise marginal kids in school.

While academics are, well...

Anonymous said...

Wiley, didn't they have to get special legislative approval for Project LIFT?
Ashley Holmes

Anonymous said...


Anon 10:33 hits the nail on the head. To do what you suggest about every child playing sports risks forcing CMS to turning school athletics into a rec sports league.

Trust me, the travel baseball programs in the area would love that. It would make paying them thousands of dollars a year for "truly competitive" sports an absolute requirement, and further negate the benefits of participating in school athletics..

Anonymous said...


You have been open and upfront about your thoughts regarding school athletics, and we have to respect that.


Sadly competitive sports in our public schools are in jeopardy.

Just last night a local private school set the tone for their season, which is already being predicated to end with another state championship, with a huge win against a public school opponent with a former public school quarterback at the helm, and a former public school coach on their coaching staff.

So, while the public schools dance around about whether or not they fund their athletic programs, the local private schools can siphon away the athletes and coaches from the public schools to ensure they are able to compete for state championships.

So the crippling effect you say can never happen is in fact happening in front of our eyes.....

Anonymous said...


You state "They'll never cripple athletic programs like they do academics in our schools."

To suggest this is to ignore the facts.

Please tell me how it is possible for a private school to ever compete against, much less defeat, a public school opponent when the private school's enrollment numbers are just a fraction of their public school opponent's enrollment numbers?

The local private schools are working very hard to provide their "customers" the highest quality experience for their children both in the classroom and on the athletic fields, while we're whining about allocating the dwindling public funds "fairly" across our failing public school system.

Anonymous said...

Well, thanks to your comment we can now wait for the anti art, music, band, dance and drama coalition to chime in.

Speaking of..
NC requires elementary education majors to take Arts Integration - instead of additional math, science, social studies, and language arts methods classes - because, apparently, "Art on a Cart" taught by a certified art teacher can't accomplish arts integration objectives on their own. Yes, be careful what you wish for because your child's 3rd grade classroom teacher maybe required to take Movement Integration too as part of the next educational "reform" package aimed at eliminating everything outside of the regular classroom.


Anonymous said...


Thus the steady migration of CMS' students and families to private schools or the surrounding county's schools.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:44,

The suburban school's will continue to be forced to pay for any SmartBoards in their schools through the coercive sales tactics of the "Fun Run" crowd who keep 50% of the proceeds, and will have to pay for any SmartBoards in the urban schools through the wealth transfer occurring when their tax dollars are shifted to satisfy the fairness and equity crowd at the CMS district offices.

Anonymous said...

I think more Smartbroads would help the schools a lot.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:26,

DVD players help on family trips a lot, too.

Shamash said...


Arts integration? Art on a cart?

Maybe a food cart as well...

But long as it's Ars Gratis who are we to complain?

Anon 12:21...

Maybe "Fun Runs" will replace the free competitive sports programs in schools.

At least they're profitable and can be used to buy more free stuff.

I have to admit that the "Fun Runs" are another "charity" we bypass in favor of direct donations to the teacher's supply cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:31

Back in my day, SmartBroads were the only ones who got to be teachers.

-Mr. Obvious

Anonymous said...


Fun Runs are profitable for the principal with no skin in the game, and the Fun Run company who keeps 50% of the revenue generated.

Sadly, the families would be much better served to provide direct contributions as you suggest or to conduct a capital campaign where 100% of the funds go to the school.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:59,

No, no, no! The Fun Run is the best way to go, because it's EASY!!! The Fun Run folks do everything for the school and the school personnel don't have to lift a finger. Oh, and it reduces the time the teachers have to spend with their students in class.

What's not to like about that. Someone else does all the work, and the kids aren't in the class having to be taught?????

Ann Doss Helms said...

If I'm remembering right from the tour, the new school doesn't have smartboards in all classrooms but does have projectors that can display work from iPads (don't hold me to that). Both CMS and PTAs have bought smartboards for various schools.

10:57, Project LIFT itself didn't require legislative approval. What the legislature OK'ed was the alternative calendar and extended school year.

Ashley Holmes, the idea of raising money for staff was definitely raised and shot down at some point. What I can't recall is whether it was legally prohibited or just dismissed as impractical/inequitable. I tend to think George Battle would know if there was a legal restriction, so probably the latter.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that most parents do not know that 50% of the Fun Run money goes to that company.

Tie the run to PE. Make it 75% to the school and 25% to the charity that the kids choose by voting. Its a win-win. Kids leave about fitness and help those in need.

All you need is cones and some music!

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:06,

It would make more financial sense to do as you suggest, however, the Fun Run company does all the heavy lifting, i.e., turning the children into little monsters who go home demand that immediate and extended family members for contributions so they can win prizes and get recognition. Those who choose not to participate are left out. Funny how that works in a system that wants everyone to feel equal, special and included....


Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the last time I saw every kid getting a participation trophy to be "fair", it was an adult handing them out. I'm so tired of the argument that the younger generation is soft. If it's such a ridiculous notion that every kid should feel like a winner (and it is ridiculous, I agree), then you only have yourselves to blame. Fantastic parenting skills! Raise the kids yourself, blame the kid for how they turned out.

Rant over.

Anonymous said...

1:26, 1:06, Margy,

As a former PTO president:

I'm glad people have brought up the issue of Fun Run and other companies hawking things to raise money for schools. These so-called school fundraising organizations keep anywhere from 50 -60% of profits. The companies I had to deal with were highly aggressive and savvy in their marketing techniques but did little to raise money in any substantial form. Fortunately, I've seen far fewer schools participating in these kind of rip-offs by spreading the word and encouraging families to make direct donations to their school instead of purchasing overpriced wrapping paper, cookie dough, cheese cake and so forth. Most private schools have long ditched these kinds of fundraising drives.

Actually, I think there are some similarities between school fundraising companies and for-profit educational "reform" companies trying to hawk the latest and greatest new testing regimes. It's called getting the shaft.


Anonymous said...

We don't participate in the Fun Run because even my 2nd grader understands its a sham!

He'll ask about the plastic giveaways, but he gets over it.

Teachers hate it too-seriously having classes compete against each other for 15 minutes of recess time?

Between this and BYOT I dread the school year.

I donate directly to the teachers.

Shamash said...

Anon 12:59.

Yes, I see the Fun Run as just another example of our Educational-Industrial Complex run amok.

Only there is no President with the educational chops (equal to Eisenhower's military chops) to warn us of the potential dangers.

As soon as my wife and I discovered that 50% was skimmed from the top of the Fun Run, we immediately started donating our money directly to UNITED WAY to avoid the middle-man.

Just kidding...

We just sent some money to the PTA and some supplies to the teacher.

Well, actually, we went to one PTA meeting, donated some funds, saw that they were EVEN WORSE with their finances and decided to teach our children Financial Literacy on the side and put more money in THEIR education fund.

And strive to learn from others mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Shamash-agree 100% about the PTA. Don't look behind the curtain there. Someone should be an audit of what the heck they do with the funds because the begging never stops. By now, our school should have enough Ipads for several classrooms not just one! Funny that a revised budget is never available.

We had a teacher once ask the kids for paper. I asked her why she didn't go to the PTA as they were suppose to allow a certain dollar amount per teacher. She said it wasn't worth the hassle and for me to please not even ask the PTA about it. Same PTA that cancelled Teacher Appreciation Week since they viewed the teachers as not appreciative enough.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 10:59....

What did I suggest????

You must have read something totally different than what I wrote.

Some of you commenting don't seem to have a clue about sports in CMS and how it works.

Shamash said...

Funny you should mention "audit" because that was exactly the topic at the PTA/PTO/PTX (choose one...) meeting we attended.

How to get out of the SNAFU regarding the IRS "misunderstanding" about the tax status of their organization due to past lax management.


Talk about time, effort, AND money down the drain.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, weren't you the one who said this?

"Either cover sports for all kids as an education experience, make all kids pay to play or eliminate them altogether."

Sounds like a suggestion to me!


Anonymous said...


"Either cover sports for all kids as an education experience, make all kids pay to play or eliminate them altogether."

noun idea or plan put forward for consideration.

synonyms: proposal, proposition, motion, submission, action point, recommendation.

Peggy said...

Good luck to the new Grand Oak elementary school. It's nice to see parents and kids working together for a good cause.

Ann Doss Helms said...

So what's this Fun Run that people are talking about? I googled and found a company called Boosterthon that does them; is that it? I think most fund-raising companies keep a pretty good chunk of the revenue, don't they? It was always gift-wrap and chocolate back in the 90s when I was selling stuff for PTA.

Anonymous said...


Boosterthon is the company that "facilitates" the "Fun Runs" for the schools. They utilize lots of high energy, high pressure tactics to turn the children into raving maniacs who solicit contributions from mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and everyone else they know.

The school only keeps ~50% of the proceeds, which is why so many are beginning to opt for capital campaigns. Some principals are wedded to Boosterthon since it makes their life easy, despite sacrificing significant instruction time to do the Fun Run.

Carol S. said...

Boosterthon is the fun run company that I think most posters are talking about. They are certainly high energy and get the kids really excited about getting money from their moms, dads, grandmas, neighbors, etc. The problem that staff has is they consume a lot of instructional time up over a 5-9 day period. The kids want to win the Frisbees and classrooms compete against each other. It is a fundraising company but their cut is one of the highest at 49%.

Anonymous said...

The company is called boosterthon. They get mixed reviews at our school. Some parents love it, some hate it. the PTA is all over it because it is easy money for them.

Anonymous said...

With the recent invention of the iPAD a Smartboard is no longer useful technology in CMS. Students bring their technology devices and the kids whose parents don't supply them get one free for use in CMS. NOBODY or ANY school should even use the word SMARTBOARD. That's like using the name Scott Murri it's useless a lot like he is.

Wiley Coyote said...

3:27 and 3:49...

You need to go back and read the entire thread, as both of you have misunderstood my comment and didn't read what 10:39 wrote, which was this:

Anon 10:33 hits the nail on the head. To do what you suggest about every child playing sports risks forcing CMS to turning school athletics into a rec sports league.

CMS paid for ALL kids to play sport until about 4 years ago when Gorman was having to cut programs.

Gorman wanted to cut middle schools sports and save the $1.3 million dollars. Instead, he/CMS implemented a pay to play scheme where those students on FRL played for FREE while all other students had to pay $50.00 for middle school sports and $100.00 for high school. That's PER CHILD, per sport.

So my original comment was related to this story about compensating techers with funds other than tax money and whther it was legal or not.

Nowhere did I suggest we make all kids pay for sports or form some sort of league ball nor did I suggest ALL kids play a sport.

Go back and try to follow the bouncing ball.

Anonymous said...

Not all schools have a company do the fun run. Our school does its own so we get 100%. I think it's the wealthier schools who opt to give away half the earnings. I guess our poor school perform higher in the common sense department.

Anonymous said...

8:14 like! Maybe the school PE departments should make a school fun run be part of the class physical activity curriculum. The kids could use the running around time and build up to a school wide event or carnival later in the year.


Anonymous said...

Gut math - nobody likes to study.
With the savings going to increase phys ed.

Anonymous said...

West Meck 69, East Meck 0.
The westside "have nots" evidently didn't get the memo from Heath's pep rally yesterday.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Ann. There aren't SmartBoards at Grand Oak. Each classroom has projection capabilities, 10 iPads & will have AppleTV. All paid for by CMS.

For those discussing Boosterthon - PTA/O's wouldn't use them if they weren't effective. Even after "giving away" 50%, most schools come out better. That said, where there are real needs and motivated people it's possible for a direct giving campaign to bring in more. (Torrence Creek raised $58K+ two years ago with a direct give.) But it requires a lot of work coupled with an extremely engaged parent base that can afford to cut bigger checks. (Bigger because participation rates go down, so you need higher average donations.)

Anonymous said...

Grand Oak gets 10 Ipads per classroom? Is that the norm in CMS? Who paid for that? My suburban school has like 20 in total-we are begged to bring them in ourselves.
Also, whoever posted earlier that the school supplies them for those who don't bring them-not in our area. If you don't bring it in-you just watch your neighbor playing their game! HA HA
BYOT is a joke.

Anonymous said...

everyone seems to misunderstand your comments, Wiley.

Yet you are the one constant among everyone.

Coincidence? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Pay Teachers and bring back their benefits !


Anonymous said...

9:30 did not attend the rally...many other teachers did not as well. Cheer us for one day only, no way! The support by administration is not there and attending the rally was even presented jokingly by said administrator. We need respect and support throughout the year...we will see if the rally changed anything. Ann, do a follow-up on the outcomes from the rally and any shift in morale...not convinced. Let's go Monday!

Anonymous said...

Ann, hear anything about all MS and HS teachers in CMS receiving an HP tablet/laptop combo device? Would love to know where those funds came from...

Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure, our schools waste more time "fund-raising" or being involved in "fund-raising" events than probably any other schools in the developed world.

And it seems like it gets worse over the decades.

It's like we're training our children to be salesmen (or beggars), not sure which.

Anonymous said...

Who was the Pep Rally really for?

Teachers or the back slap happy administrators.

Keep licking that tootsie pop MOrrison

Barbie said...

Dear School PTA,

Please do us all a favor at (insert school name)school this year and just ask for a Capital Campaign donation at the beginning of the school year. 100% of those funds will be your operating budget for the year. Then use those funds throughout the year, with a small carry over to the following school year.

Thank you, CMS staff and Parents