I’m going to start and say that this post will probably seem odd to public school teachers. It seems odd to me, and I’ve been a private school teacher for 7 of my 8 years teaching. Oh well.
Today was a scheduled day of school. Until Friday of last week. On Friday, it was announced that my school met our fundraising goal and we would be rewarded with Monday off.
Wait, what? We paid for a day off of school?
In some ways, yes.
Being a private school, there isn’t a lot of money in the bank (I know a lot of people think private schools are rolling in the dough, but I assure you, it is the exact opposite). One of the things that is both a benefit and a drawback is that our money is generally not earmarked for things. Sometimes, we will have money given to use specifically for scholarships for low-income families, or technology, or whatever the donor may desire. However, it’s usually just part of a general fund. This goes to pay for all the things schools have as expenses: teacher salary, building maintenance, supplies, technology upgrades, etc.
The upside to this is that if we have some extra money, we can do some cool things with it without worrying about a ton of approval (the school board has their say, but there’s one hoop to jump through, not 3 or 4). So if we want to buy some couches and put together a student lounge, we can do that. If we need to upgrade our computers, we can save up and do that. If we need new uniforms, we can do that.
The downside is that sometimes, things get put way on the back burner. Without funds being earmarked, which comes first: new uniforms or new whiteboards? How can we pay for our computers to be replaced and upgraded when a pipe bursts and we have to fix that first? Where does Wi-Fi come into play (we just got wireless in the building this year)? How important is it that we have the athletics programs we have, considering we have to rent out the playing fields from the community public schools? It’s tough when the money isn’t there. Since our tuition is a couple thousand dollars per student less than the funding public schools in the area receive, it’s a pretty constant concern. We bridge this gap as best we can by having lower salaries, fewer administrators, and through donations and fundraisers.
So when our students are able to raise over $10,000 for the school by selling $25-$100 ad space in our yearbook to businesses in the community, it’s something we’re happy with. We will be able to use that money to directly benefit the school at large. Perhaps rewarding the students for accomplishing something that benefits the school with a day off of school is a bit. . .well, interesting thinking at best, it’s what we went with. I hope the students are using it to their benefit as much as I am (I wrote quite a bit in a new work-in-progress!).
I believe in our public schools. But I also believe in our private schools. I believe in educators and education. While the day off is an intriguing incentive, it’s nice to know we can do a little bit more for our school and for our students because of their efforts.