At Thursday night’s Bryan County Board of Education meeting, school board members approved a donation of nearly $15,000 to Carver Elementary from the school’s Parent Teacher Student Organization for new playground equipment at the school.
That was far from all.
The BoE also approved a gift of two computers by the Department of Defense to be used for JROTC at Bryan County High School, a $3,200 donation to Richmond Hill Middle School from the RHMS PTSO and a donation of more than $2,500 to Richmond Hill Primary School by the RHPS PTSO.
And that wasn’t all, either.
The Peace Officers Association of Georgia and Canoochee EMC gave BCHS $2,500 for alcohol-free prom activities. And Carver’s PTSO also donated a fence and its installation for the new playground. Such donations are far from uncommon.
Hardly a BoE meeting goes by without an agenda including notice of at least one donation from a PTSO or other group. And without fail individual BoE members go on record with their gratitude at the end of meetings.
With good reason.
Since the beginning of the 2010 Fiscal Year on July 1, the Bryan County Board of Education has approved the acceptance of $77,835 in donations to the county’s nine schools, according to Chief Financial Officer Melanie James.
Most of that amount is in the form of cash raised by groups at fundraisers across the county. A small amount of it is in in-kind gifts of materials or labor.
But the $77,835 doesn’t include donations of time, material or money made directly to schools by Booster Clubs and other supporters or the advertising by businesses in school yearbooks, said Superintendent John Oliver.
Both he and school Board Chairman Eddie Warren, who called Thursday’s list of donations, “awesome,” said the gifts have always helped the schools provide equipment and supplies that may not otherwise be affordable. But now the support is helping cushion the blow from some of the budget cuts made necessary by harsh economic times.
“We don’t have endless funds to work with, especially in this economy,” Warren said. “These are examples that show that the more communities and schools and businesses work together, the stronger we’ll all be.”
Bryan Schools made some $4 million in cuts from its general fund this year, paring its operating budget to $49.5 million despite a 2 mill tax increase. The system has lost approximately $10 million in state money since 2003, and more state cuts are expected.
“Contributions from our PTSOs and booster organizations and businesses have helped ease the economic impact of the reductions we’ve had to make to schools at the board level,” Oliver said, noting that the BoE appreciates the work the groups put into getting the donations.
“It requires a lot of organization and effort on the part of our parent organizations,” he said. “Without exception, board members and really, all of us, are very appreciative and recognize how much these donations mean to our schools and students.”