Right about now, you’ll be a receiving a reminder letter about Voluntary Contributions. It’s well timed (because June 30*, people).
I’d quite like to rebrand ‘Voluntary Contributions’. Yes, they are ‘voluntary’. Yes, they ‘contribute’ to the school’s budget. But what the name doesn’t reveal is this: that State Government funding does not provide all the funds needed to run a school. That the things that make a school a comfortable and fun place to be (such as new library books, cooling in the junior school building and the whiz-bang Apple TVs) rely on Voluntary Contributions.
So I’m thinking of an alternative name for Voluntary Contributions, something along the lines of ‘A Really Important Contribution That’s Put Toward Really Good Stuff for Your Kids and Although it’s Voluntary, it Would Be Really Good if You Paid it Promptly, Please’. I think it has a nice ring to it but accept it may require some editing…
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The Contribution is broken down into four components –
• Building Fund ($100 tax deductible – equates to $48,000 if everyone pays)
• Library Fund ($75 tax deductible – equates to $36,000 if everyone pays)
• Grounds & Oval Maintenance Levy ($65 – equates to $31,000 if everyone pays)
• Technology Support/ Maintenance ($50 – equates to $24,000 if everyone pays)
You’re probably thinking “$36,000! That buys a tonne of library books!”. Well yes, it would. But the Library Fund also pays for computer equipment and furniture for the library, gear that can also be used in other classrooms. Likewise, the Grounds & Oval Maintenance Levy pays for major projects (such as re-landscaping the area where the old sandpit once was) and the smaller stuff such as mowing and rubbish-removal. The Technology Levy pays for exciting stuff such as digital TVs for the classrooms and the less-exciting-but-critical stuff like technical support for staff and students.
Alas, there is a bit of a short-fall between the amount that would be in the coffers if everyone paid their Contributions and what is actually paid (more on this in previous blog posts here and here). For example, while the Grounds & Oval budget has the potential to be $31,000, it’s actually set in the school budget at a more conservative $15,000, which pays for the absolute bare essentials. Contributions that take that budget line over $15,000 are put toward projects such as moving the sandpit and re-landscaping – basically the bigger ticket and longer term projects.
The wish list for future projects includes cooling solutions for the senior school (Building), redevelopment of school oval (Grounds), new reading materials for classrooms (Library) and banks of iPads for the junior school and laptops for the middle and senior school (Technology). Some of the grade three students might be a little disappointed that the wish list doesn’t include a waterslide, a petting zoo (with a panda) and a mirror ball for the gym but I’m sure these are all things that we can work toward in the future.
And finally, did I mention it’s tax time*?
* Voluntary contributions to the Building Fund and the Library Fund are tax deductible