Welcome and Review of Minutes

Facilitator Dick Withycombe welcomed committee members and asked them to review the minutes of their January 3 meeting, which they adopted with the following change to section IV.

District Director of Athletics and Activities Jeff Lowell will send committee members a neighboring district’s policy that addresses one such area and John Harrison will draft a recommendation regarding the need for policy language about government funding and funding from nongovernmental organizations such as the National Science Foundation and Puget Sound Energy. Potentially, this language could be included in Policy 6100 – Revenue from Local, State and Federal Sources.

Responses to School Board Questions

The committee spent most of this meeting discussing the questions the School Board asked them to address in the September 2017 Phase Two charge.  The committee reached preliminary agreements by consensus, which they will review and finalize at their next meeting.  These preliminary agreements appear on the following pages.

“What requirements should we place on organizations that donate to/partner with us to support athletics and activities programs?”

“Should organizations provide regular financial reports to the BSD or just furnish such reports upon request? What information must be accessible to BSD – e.g., public inspection requirements?”

Response:  The school district should not request financial reports from donors or prospective donors.  The school district has access to public information.

Considerations:  Information about most donor organizations is available online due to their charitable status, including the IRS website.  The district is unlikely to require tax returns from individual donors, so it should not require such information from organizations.  Other school districts do not impose such a requirement on donors. School staff are often involved in partner organizations as board members or advisors, so they know what these groups are doing.  The district decides whether to accept a donation based on the information provided on the donation form; this is where it can exercise control; it does not need financial reports.

“Should BSD utilize a checklist of organizational requirements with which organizations must comply?”

Response:  If the school district wishes to establish a checklist of organizational requirements for school support groups, it should do so outside the donations policy framework.

Considerations:  There may be a variety of district interests regarding school partner and support organizations that cannot be fully or appropriately captured in the donations policy and procedure.

“Should different requirements be placed on different types of organization (e.g., those that support only a particular BSD school, those that support a particular program in one school, those that support a particular program in multiple schools, those organizations that support both BSD students and other schools/students, temporary organizations to support a single event like a field trip, more long-term organizations, etc.)?”

Response: The committee amended the response above as follows to address both questions: If the school district wishes to establish a checklist of organizational requirements for different kinds of school support groups, it should do so outside the donations policy framework.

“For what purposes can we accept in-kind and monetary donations?”

General Response:  This question is addressed in the committee’s revised Procedure 6114P (paragraphs 2 and 3 of “Donations” and paragraph 4 of “Tangible Personal Property”), as well as its revised Policy 6114 (section A).

“Should organizations be able to provide core items (e.g., uniforms, transportation, and basic equipment) beyond what the school funds? If so, are there particular qualifications that need to be met?”

Response:  School support organizations should not be prohibited from providing funds for core items for activity programs.  Rather than “qualifications,” the board should specify key “considerations,” including whether such donations are essential to the program’s existence, whether they help to ensure a consistent standard of quality, and whether they contribute to the district’s ongoing commitment to equity.

Considerations:  The district has defined and funded core items for athletic programs.  This is less true for activity programs, in part because different schools offer different activities.  If “core” means “necessary for the activity to occur,” there are programs that depend upon donors and families to cover core items.  The district’s practice is to encourage donors to give cash, so that schools can purchase goods and services that help to address district interests related to equity, standardization, and quality (the latter sometimes a matter of student health or safety).  However, it is important that families who want specific programs for their children have an opportunity to help make them possible.  One aspect of the value of booster club operations is that they help students whose families cannot afford to pay fees by providing alternative ways to support the program.  If the district wishes to apply an equity lens to this issue, it should consider school size and demographics in the allocation of the resources it provides to support activities (activity hours and supervision allocations).

“Should we consider requirements, beyond those in existing policies that should govern funds provided to attend optional trips to camps, competitions, etc.? If so, what particular guidelines should we provide?”

Response:  The district should continue its practice of providing as many opportunities for students as possible.  However, the school board should establish criteria that apply to its decisions regarding student travel.  Primary among those would be:

  • whether there is clear educational value,
  • the importance of the educational opportunity for the students, and
  • whether it is merit-based (e.g., students have earned an opportunity to compete at the next level).

Further, the district should monitor the pattern of travel opportunities across schools and encourage donors to contribute to a fund intended to support equitable access to this kind of educational opportunity.

Considerations:  Policy 2320 states that trips and overnight travel are optional activities schools are not required to fund.  When there is a clear curricular component or a group has earned its way to specific level of competition, parents and boosters have done a good job of getting all students there.  Other kinds of travel, such as a trip to Europe organized in response to a travel agency offer, can be problematic.  A trip may be optional, but it may not feel like that to students.  The inequity is clear, but the solution is complicated.  How do you balance the interests of kids whose parents can afford to pay for the trip with those of the kids whose parents cannot?  How do you find a way to make it possible for everyone to go, rather than saying no to the trip?  There is also a larger picture to travel opportunities: patterns of participation across schools and by gender, for example.

“What guidelines should be provided around organizations providing scholarship support? How can we provide clarity around role of District vs. role or organization in assessing need for and distributing funds for scholarship?”

Response:  [To be completed February 7]

“How does volunteer work qualify as in-kind donations? How do requirements to which BSD must adhere affect the acceptance of volunteers?”

Response:  Volunteer services are not considered in-kind donations; they do not meet the criteria set out in the committee’s revised Procedure 6114P.

“Are there other guidelines that would be helpful to provide in policy or in procedures that would help ensure strong positive partnerships with our community who support our activities and athletics?”

Response:  [To be completed February 7]

Next Meeting February 7

The Donations Policy Committee will meet Wednesday, February 7 (2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.), in the Baker Room at WISC.  At that time, they will finalize their revisions to administrative procedure 6114P, consider a neighboring school district’s language regarding school-support organizations, review and complete their responses to the board questions, discuss stakeholder outreach, and decide how best to transmit their report to the School Board.