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ASBJ editor has a few suggestions for generating revenue, controversy

96px-SpaceneedleseattleWhew! What a relief. The Seattle Public Schools aren’t going to charge parents an “administrative fee” for donating money to their children’s schools.

Did you hear about that story? Someone in the school system apparently told parent groups that they might be charged a fee for the paperwork involved in handling money from the PTA and other parent groups.

Turns out, the brouhaha that followed was much ado about nothing. The school board says it knew nothing about the idea. And once parents began voicing their reaction, the central office quickly sent out word that such a fee “was not a productive suggestion.”

Okay. Somebody got ahead of himself (or herself). No big deal. Mistakes happen. Enough said.

And yet . . . I can’t help but think: Given the financial crunch facing so many school districts, perhaps such creative—nay, let’s say off-the-wall—ideas should be given more consideration.

So, trusting the Seattle school board has a sense of humor, I’ll share some of the ideas I’ve pondered in the last few days:

Put coin-operated locks on the stalls of all school restrooms. They used to do that in bus stations. And while many students don’t like to use school restrooms, if they really, really have to go, I’m sure they’ll pay for the privilege.

Instead of buying textbooks—or even cheaper licenses on online textbooks—tell kids to go to Wikipedia. The accuracy of what’s written there can’t be any worse than what Texas is doing to its textbooks.

Quit hiring adults as substitute teachers. From personal experience—as well as what my teenage son tells me—substitutes are little more than glorified baby-sitters. So let’s hire those 16-year-old girls in the neighborhood who are willing to work for $10 an hour.

Put candy bars and sodas back in school vending machines. Yes, childhood obesity is a terrible thing. But so is adult stupidity, which is what we’ll get if schools don’t have the money to educate.

Launch before and after-school videogame clubs, and convince Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft that it’s in their best interest to support such clubs with cash (lots of cash) in exchange for helping advertise their products. (That’s got to be more lucrative than ads on the side of school buses.)

Sit kids in front of a television for an hour and have them watch TV political pundits. Not only can we save money on political-science teachers, these born-on-another-planet TV agitators will provide far more engaging lessons to our students. (How can a lesson on the Monroe Doctrine compete with a talk on the “death panels” to be created by our recently passed universal health care legislation.)

Anyway, these are my humble suggestions. Anyone out there with their own out-of-the-box budget-saving or revenue-producing ideas? Let’s hear them. America’s public education system needs your ingenuity.

Del Stover, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|March 25th, 2010|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

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