Pick a month, any month. Then take a look at an agenda for a meeting of the Bryan County Board of Education and chances are pretty good you’ll see a section where the board is asked to approve donations.
Lots of them.
At the BoE’s Feb. 23 meeting, there were more than $9,000 in donations, including the Red Clay Diamond Club’s $5,385 present to the Bryan County High School baseball team, or the $2,495 donation to Lanier Primary from its PT0 for educational software and an online subscription.
Donations like those have added up over Bryan County School Board Chairman Eddie Warren’s 17 years on the board - 11
as school board chairman.
“I’d say it’s averaged a couple hundred thousand a year,” he said, doing the math and coming up with about $3 million in donations from community members in less than 20 years.
“I just think it says a lot for the community and the parents in the community, that they care that much,” Warren said.
And that’s not counting donations such as land - Rayonier gave the school land for the site where Richmond Hill Middle School was built - and effort. And it’s not counting the donations that aren’t recognized.
Before Bryan County Schools maintenance department began taking care of ballfields, former school board member Charlie Johnson gave the baseball team a lawnmower.
“I don’t think that ever went through the board,” Warren said. “He just said, ‘hey guys, here’s a lawnmower for you, go for it.’”
There have also been donations of materials and labor, such as when former board member Jeff Morton built outdoor classrooms for Richmond Hill Primary School.
But the school board tries to keep tabs on the donations to make sure the money goes where it’s designated. Many are for specific classes or projects, such as the $311 approved Feb. 23 for McAllister Elementary teacher Taylor Bocook for classroom books, or Civility Bowling’s $300 gift to Richmond Hill Middle School’s field studies program.
Some are simply donated to a school for its day to day operations, generally through PTOs which hold fundraisers.
“Back in the day before the new Richmond Hill elementary school was built, the primary school and Carver Elementary would have a fall festival and that thing would raise about $30,000-$40,000 every year, which allowed those PTOs to turn around and buy things for the schools,” said Warren, who added the primary reason the BOE wants the donations on the agenda is to say thanks.
“It’s to show our appreciation to the people and groups donating as much as anything,” he said. “It would be a bit harder to do some of the things we do for kids without those donations.”