The Knightsen Teachers Association voted unanimously on March 11 to recommend that after-school sports and field trips be subsidized by parents, along with other fundraising efforts, in an attempt to save teaching jobs and offset the district’s flagging finances.
The tiny school district has been in talks with the neighboring Byron and Brentwood school districts over the possibility of a merger. The Knightsen district faces a potential shortfall of $4.5 million from the annual operating budget, and without a merger, bankruptcy is a real possibility.
To help offset the district’s burden, school officials have decided to cut after-school sports out of the general fund for the 2008-09 school year, a move that could save as much as $30,000, possibly more. Parents and teachers are considering fundraising events such as spaghetti feeds and carwashes as another avenue for creating additional dollars.
“Our parents and teachers here are just so wonderful,” said Knightsen Superintendent Vickey Rinehart. “They’re so good at stepping up and helping things along. We have a very supportive community here in Knightsen.”
But there is another piece of the extracurricular puzzle, and that is the school swimming pool. Rinehart said that for the rest of this year, the district will be asking parents to donate $20 per child to support the pool’s upkeep and maintenance.
“We feel that the pool is extremely important, and since it’s part of our curriculum, we can’t charge fees,” she said. “But we are asking parents for $20 per child for this year, and then we’ll see where we are at the end of the year.”
Either way, said Rinehart, the community’s generous support, while helpful, will not relieve the district of its larger financial burden: “These fundraising things are helping close the gap for things that we have to cut and they are wonderful; the parents are just so wonderful here helping each other. However, they are not going to solve our financial issues, and I do believe the merger is still the answer and I believe it will help everyone.
“For now, this (fundraising effort) just keeps things moving along and helping us hold on, and for that we’re very, very grateful.”