Decision could net $20,000 for schools

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The Moffat County School District Board of Education on Thursday made an exception to policy that's not quite one year old. But making that exception could net the district more than $20,000 a year.

J.B. Chapman, owner of Chapman's Automotive, offered to give the district 2 percent of the business's annual revenues if the district would allow him to send a letter to all parents telling them about the program, which he calls "Keeping Education Rolling."

Chapman's proposal is not considered a fundraiser because it has an advertising component, and it didn't meet the requirements of corporate sponsorship.

"Even though it's limited advertising, it is advertising," Superintendent Pete Bergmann said. "It really is limited advertising in the best interests of Moffat County, as well as Chapman's Automotive."

Chapman's offer could be considered a corporate sponsorship if he weren't asking that the money go to each school's Parent Advisory Committee, which would determine how it is spent.

According to district policy, all funds generated from corporate sponsorships must be used for capital purchases.

Chapman's said that he's often approached by students raising money for school-related purposes. He'd like the opportunity to combine his donations.

"I want to focus on something long-term rather than something hit and miss because, as a business owner, you never know how much is too much," he said. "I think that everyone wins with this idea."

Each customer will have the opportunity to choose which school he or she would like to support, and then Chapman's will set aside 2 percent of the total price for that school.

"I'd like to work with each PAC so there's some ownership," Chapman said.

He's also not pushing for exclusivity. In fact, he said he hopes other businesses do the same thing.

The board of education voted unanimously to form a partnership with Chapman and to allow the funds raised to go to school PACs.

They also decided to direct the district's School Accountability Committee -- made up of representatives from each school's PAC -- to re-evaluate the district's corporate-sponsorship and fundraising policies.

"This has been an issue, and it continues to be an issue," Bergmann said. "This is different (from other situations), but it's constantly a gray area."

Although board member Jo----Ann Baxter favored Chap--man's offer, she said she is concerned about the number of fundraisers approved that violate the policy.

For example, letters went to parents last week telling them that a certain percentage of their Pizza Hut purchases on a certain date would be donated to a school.

Bergmann said that could constitute advertising, which is prohibited by the fundraising policy.

He said fundraiser guidelines aren't specific enough.

The School Accountability Committee also will be asked to evaluate whether the district should require funds generated from corporate sponsorships be used for capital purchases.

Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan recommended board members be cautious about making a change.

"I don't know that there's any school that doesn't need a smart board or a new computer -- things that count as capital outlay," he said. "I'd hate to see the Pepsi contract go to athletic scholarships."

Bergmann said there's room for flexibility.

"There are a lot of opportunities to enhance education that aren't capital," he said.

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