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Proposed Policy Penalizes Success

December 9, 2003

Dear Editor,

I write in opposition to the equity fund policy currently being proposed by SMMUSD Superintendent, Mr. John Deasy. ("District Gift Policy Stirs Controversy," Dec. 4, 2003)

The policy calls for mandated entitlement by the district to a portion of private gifts to public schools, including all contributions to the PTA.

This policy fails to acknowledge that there are legitimate needs at every school in this district. The taking of resources from some students for the benefit of others assumes that some have more than they deserve. An appropriate manner to pursue the stated goals would promote the creation of additional funds for specific needs of students.

This policy fails to service the proficient and advanced students in the district. The weighted student formula for the redistribution of funds offers no prize for successful students and thereby penalizes the successful schools. The implication is that proficient and advanced students are less important to the public school system than are the struggling students.

The policy, however it is administered, adds overhead and thereby reduces the amount of available resources. To attempt to promote equity, the policy will require extensive comparison between schools; of what is currently being funded and how. Letís avoid this expensive exercise.

Further, mandated entitlements to donations, are not donations, they are taxes and will stimulate changes in the market related to price increases: loss of customer support, either to private schools or reduced giving, or both. These changes place school budgets at risk.

Letís not underestimate the value of unfettered giving. The inherent elements of ownership and caring create an environment wherein the sum of the parts is truly greater than the whole. This has been diligently fostered by PTAs for years.

Ultimately the district must continue to inspire donations, with or without this new policy. Letís forgo this divisive gesture.

Sincerely,

Deborah Griffin, PTA, Co-President
Webster Elementary School

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