Parents help schools cope with crisis

January 2, 2009 7:24:09 PM PST
The state budget crisis is putting public schools in a real pinch. The governor's current proposal calls for cutting more than $5 billion from the education budget over the next two years. Parent groups in the Bay Area are struggling to make up the difference.

Bake sales just don't cut it anymore for Bay Area schools facing the deep budget cuts being served up by California lawmakers.

That's why many are going the way of eBay, launching online auctions to help raise money for everything from sports programs to classroom necessities.

Sue Noack is the president of the PTA at Strandwood Elementary in Pleasant Hill.

In January, the parents club will hold their second online auction. The last one raised $42,000.

"We actually fund for instructional support people here, reading, art, science and ceramics," said Noack. "So it's a very important piece and every year with the state budget, it gets more and more important for us."

Strandwood even offers class projects for sale online -- items made by the kids, like benches, artwork and photography.

In Fairfield, Solano Community College offered a visit to a local sheriff's crime lab, a "criminalist for a day" experience that sold for nearly $200.

At Strandwood Elementary, money raised through the online auctions will be used to fund programs inside the classroom. Other Bay Area schools are using the Internet to fund programs outside of class.

At Pleasanton's Amador Valley High School, the Booster Club hopes to raise close to $200,000 this year.

As part of that effort, they will try an online auction for the first time.

"People are used to working on the internet, companies like eBay, being able to purchase in the leisure of your living room," said Sally Parsons from Amador High School Booster Club.

And like eBay, the auctions are open to anyone online -- not limited to a particular school community.

According to cMarket, which supports the auctions in a platform called "Bidding For Good," California schools have raised more than $6.5 million since 2005, $3.3 million of that this year.

The auctions may not solve all their funding problems, but they beat selling cupcakes.

Related Links: BiddingForGood