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Wells Middle School Band Revamps Fundraising in Response to Statewide Challenges

December 29, 2012

Wells Middle School Battle of the Bands Coin Contest Fundraiser

The word “fundraising” has long been associated with many of our sites within the Dublin Unified School District (DUSD). Whether it has been through the promotion of holiday wrapping paper at our elementary schools, restaurant dining events for the middle schools or managing concessions at an NCS football game at Dublin High – fundraising is part of the landscape both here in Dublin and at schools throughout the state of California. We have become accustomed to supporting our schools in any way possible and it has also become representative of the overall “giving” nature of all families throughout our district. Recently, new rules and regulations were brought to light which ensure that we pay much closer attention to how funds are dedicated, how they are raised and to ensure that no student is excluded from any extracurricular activity.

The consideration of these relatively new rules had a direct impact on how the Wells Middle School Band and Guard would approach their annual journey to Disneyland in March 2013. The invitation for Wells to participate has now exceeded 25 years and has become a great school tradition. In previous years, the equation was quite simple. Band and Guard members were expected to gradually make deposits into individual travel accounts at designated deadlines starting in early fall. By late January, most, if not all of these payments were to be completed. In preceding years, there have been additional fundraising events to supplement the effort and thus reducing the individual amount needed to attend. The decision to no longer allow individual travel accounts confused some families about the enforcement of these new regulations and donations for the trip were lagged behind presented goals. Wells needed to come forward with alternative group fundraising efforts to ensure that this long standing tradition would not cease. The subject of individual fundraising for extracurricular activities has been a sticky one over many decades, impacting each and every one of our school sites. OneDublin.org decided to delve more deeply into this area.

In order to gain perspective on this issue, one must go back to 1879. At that time, the California State Constitution adopted a “free school guarantee” that provided for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be kept up and supported in each district at least six months of every year. In the early 1940’s, the California Attorney General issued an opinion that school districts may not require security deposits for locks, lockers, books, class apparatus, musical instruments, uniforms and that students may not be required to pay a membership fee in any student body organization as a condition of participation in extracurricular activities. In essence, all in and out of school activities should not be limited to only those that could afford to pay additional fees. This debate continued on into the mid-1980’s after the passage of Proposition 13. Prop 13 essentially froze the property tax valuation on all homes purchased prior to 1978 – thus reducing subsequent property taxes collected by the state. In response, the California Supreme Court concluded that the “free school guarantee” should be extended to all programs that are “educational in character,” and that activities such as sports, drama, vocal and instrumental music programs reflect that definition.

In 2010, this dialogue changed course. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit that claimed that multiple school districts and sites were circumventing unlawful fee practices and thus had failed to provide free access to all students. The lawsuit was settled in three months. As a result, specific guidelines for fundraising have been honed and all California public schools have been required to fall into compliance.

So what does this mean? As stated in its original intent: A voluntary and extracurricular event must not require a student to fund raise. He or she may be asked to attend an event, but their active role in fundraising is not required. This brings us back to the Wells Middle School Disneyland trip. As Collegiate Motivational Speaker Anthony J. D’Angelo likes to say “Focus 90% of your time on solutions and only 10% of your time on your problems.” As fall moved into winter, it was evident confusion existed within the Wells band community relative to how the Disneyland fundraising would be executed. The methods of providing funds for students never changed. The primary difference is that these subjugated payments would now need to be designated as donations from friends and families and larger fundraising efforts would be introduced to supplement donations.

In response to the lag in donations, the Band & Guard committee met on multiple occasions from September through November. A two-fold plan was hatched: For one, a fundraising raffle was established that included prizes such as an iPad3, an iPod Touch4 and an iTunes gift card – all donated by families with 100% of the proceeds going towards the Disneyland trip. Part two was the creation of a coin box where three five-gallon water jugs – separated by grade level – resided in the band room until the December 20 Winter Concert. It was a grade level competition to see which grade in the Band and Guard could collect the most coins. The monetary collection allowed the students to be active participants in the fundraising efforts.

Karin Greer with Wells Middle School Band Students

The counting of the coins could not be accomplished easily without the assistance of a community supporter. Services such as Coinstar and others charge up to 9.5% to redeem deposits – thus cutting into the actual profitability of any event. Wells was fortunate to establish a relationship with the Dublin branch of the Bank of West. Customer Service Manager Karin Greer was kind enough to provide her support. Further, she dedicated Teller Michael Gomes to count all of the coins by hand last week – the bank branch does not have a coin-counting machine on site. The students’ coin collection raised a total of $1,235.

According to Greer, the Bank of the West has been working with Dublin Partners in Education (DPIE) for over six years, stating: “We always like to do what we can to help our local schools.”

The rules/regulations for fundraising have changed dramatically impacting all members of the Dublin Unified School District. Keep this in mind at every opportunity you are asked to support any effort at your child’s school. Please contact your site Principal directly should you have any questions. Thank you to Bank of the West for their support of this initiative. The mantra the Wells Middle School Band and Guard has adopted to support their fundraising efforts was borrowed from the 2012 World Series San Francisco Giants – 155 Students, One Common Goal. Disneyland!

Wells Middle School Band

Wells Middle School Drum Line

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