By Katie Budinger
The Andover Public School Committee recently put forth a proposal that would drastically change the way sports and other various activities would be able to raise money, but they have since revised it so it is less extreme.
Some of the potential changes would have included banning student canning and door-to-door sales, as well as requiring approval from the superintendent for any activities that would involve students in the fundraising process. The only exception to that would have been ticket sales, charity, and community services activities, but even those would have required approval from the school principal. After a meeting on November 15 at which community members were allowed to voice their opinions on the proposed policy, the committee decided to make a few drastic alterations to the proposed policy. The policy was toned down to be closer to the current policy and more understanding of the necessity of student fundraising and the team building that can result from it.
According to committee member Susan McCready, the main reason for the initial proposal, which was discussed by the school committee on October 18, was that “students [had] been mandated to can or conduct sales while not wanting to do so.” Also some students have been the subjects of derogatory remarks while canning, businesses have complained, and some residents are “uncomfortable with this type of fundraising” (canning). Student safety is also of utmost importance, and the school committee believes that canning and door to door sales put students as risk. McCready also emphasized that the current policy is “clearly outdated,” and that APS is in need of a new one.
A meeting took place on November 15 that gave parents and other organizers the opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter. After hearing from various sources, the committee chose to revisit the policy. Instead of completely banning canning and other related activities, they insist that these be voluntary and that no student be rewarded or reprimanded if they choose to or not to participate. In the revised proposal, permission to involve students in fundraising must be granted from the superintendent to the organization at least thirty days before the scheduled fundraising event. During fundraising, students are required to have at least one other student and an adult with them at all times.
Sophomore Emme Pitts, who is a member of both the varsity dive and varsity gymnastics teams, said, “If the school would actually give [all the teams] enough money to buy [their] equipment [they] wouldn’t have to can.” She understands that it is hard for the athletics department to fund everything for all of the activities here at AHS, so she is used to canning with her teammates in order to supplement some of the lacking funds. If the change were made, Pitts is worried about how her teams would be able to pay for their equipment.
At least three out of the five school committee members still need to vote in favor of the proposal in order to pass it. McCready and the other members will vote during a meeting on December 13, and the changes would then be implemented at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
“I was pretty clear that initially I was very supportive of prohibiting both the canning and door to door sales,” said McCready during the school committee meeting on November 28, when the revisions to the potential new policy were presented. “I made the statement that I didn’t think my mind would change, [and] I stand corrected. I think one of the things that I hear a lot about was there were all these team-building and comradery opportunities, which is very important and I don’t want to deny that to students who want to participate in that.”
The school committee appreciates all those from the athletic and fine arts organizations that came out to speak at the meeting, which led to the changes made to the policy.
“I [still] think it’s stupid and highly unnecessary,” Pitts said after hearing about the alterations to the proposal, even though she thinks it is still an improvement. As McCready put it, “This is one of those issues that [has] a 50/50 split… [and] trying to find some middle ground will be [for the best].” She added that “[she] think[s] dignity, safety, equity, for our kids is of primary importance.”