At one of the budget forums the Hood River County School District hosted last month, school counselor Mary Peters invoked John F. Kennedy when she urged the community to "ask not what your school district can do for you, ask what you can do for your school district."
"Save Our Schools" is certainly responding to that idea.
This citizen-driven effort is off to an excellent start, but like any effort from the grassroots, it needs nourishing. It needs the fundraising equivalent of sunlight, fertilizer and water: time, attention and money.
It's a curious endeavor, anytime parents and community members who already pay taxes toward the schools are asked to help shoulder more of the load; but the times call for this doubling of effort.
Save Our Schools has only met once but already has more than $17,000 in its coffers.
Its goal is to raise $100,000 by April 6. While ambitious, this equates to 3.5 percent of the $3.5 million the schools will need to cut.
We'll take it. It's a major contribution, and 3.5 percent less pain for our kids.
Save Our Schools is a new, ad hoc organization, but many of the 45 parents who showed up were around six years ago when similar community fund-raising efforts happened to supplant cuts to middle school sports and elementary PE and music programs. This is not the first time parents and community members have stepped up to do what they can in the face of budget cuts.
And it will not be the last. We had better get used to it. Revenue projections are far from encouraging, and point to an ongoing need for community involvement. Partnering with the Hood River County Education Foundation will help. A long-range solution won't happen overnight but it is more likely to happen thanks to the connection with an existing organization with a proven track record.
The Save Our Schools program contains an element of choice that should appeal to the fundraising: While donations cannot be earmarked for particular programs, donors can specify one of three designations: elementary schools, middle schools and the high school
(See page A1 for details.)
Meeting the $100,000 goal by April 6 is a way to help the district in cutting decisions it must make by that date.
At the very least, it is encouraging that Save Our Schools exists at all. The outlook is a disturbing one, but the only thing more disturbing would be to do nothing at all.
There's strength in numbers and, in this time of need for our schools, especially those with dollar signs in front of them.