The Montgomery county school board passed a policy detailing the amount of money private organizations can donate to public schools. The board approved of the policy on Thursday, November 21, after a year of controversy between school communities.
According to a Washington Post article from November 24, the original policy was abstract and had no limit on the dollar amounts schools could receive from the PTA or other private donations. Residents had become concerned about the fairness of the new policy and raised alarm that some communities would be able to provide a superior education for the students in the wealthier school districts. Others argued that money donations would bring about stronger community bonds.
Blair PTSA President Marilyn Shoenfeld says that some schools are at an advantage. "[The new policy] gives a legs-up for upper-county schools," Shoenfeld said. According to Shoenfeld, people in the Blair cluster think that Blair has the potential to raise as much money as other schools, however in down-county schools people are not as affluent as in other parts of the county.
In some communities, PTAs worked to raise money for playground equipment; other schools around Montgomery County provided much monetary support to their schools. Parents at Wood Acres Elementary School raised $180,000 for landscaping, a compass rose floor design and higher-grade roofing material to match the neighboring homes.
The Wood Acres improvements brought the boards' attention to the budget. Three community meetings were held over the summer to receive public input.
The new policy allows for private groups to give money to public schools for playground equipment, stadium lighting, theatrical equipment, and landscaping. According to the Washington Post, projects that will cost more than $50,000 must be reviewed and voted for by the school board.
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