Fundraisers in recent years have prompted Niskayuna school officials to scrutinize their policies. Officials want to ensure that any fundraising conforms with state regulation and make sure students aren’t being coerced into giving.
“No one incident put it on the radar,” school board President David Hudson said. “What’s happened, is there’s been an awful lot of fundraisers over the last couple years.”
He noted natural disasters have prompted efforts, as well as efforts to build new school playgrounds. “Anytime you have something like that, it’s worth taking a look.”
Board members have been discussing the policy since earlier this year. District officials circulated a draft policy to board members this month.
The draft brings together different policies into one 13-point sales and solicitations policy governing fundraising during school hours and on school grounds. It includes a provision requiring scheduling and approval. The principal would be given the authority to ensure that such activity doesn’t intrude on learning and is coordinated with other events.
Niskayuna High School Principal John Rickert told board members last week that is already taking place under previous policies.
“It’s not as if you just set up a table and start selling things,” he said.
Other board members asked last week whether fundraisers related to the junior prom would see changes.
Bob Winchester noted that effort involves students working together to fund the event.
“There’s a lot of learning and connecting that goes on,” he said. “I don’t want to see that destroyed.”
Hudson said he didn’t expect most fundraisers to be affected by changes.
Board member Barbara Mauro said at issue is how strongly students are encouraged to take part in any fundraising activity.
“Kids shouldn’t feel pressured during the school day to part with their money,” she said.
The draft policy also sets down prohibitions against collecting in classrooms or homeroom. Donations from students may only be done in common public areas where the identity of the students participating is not revealed, something that echoes state Department of Education guidelines.