Money doesn’t grow on trees. Money doesn’t fall from the sky.
Nowhere is the truth of those old sayings better known than in most public school districts. Most of the money coming in from the usual sources (local, state and federal taxes) pays for what the districts and states decide is required. Sometimes the available tax money barely meets minimum standards.
Many school districts, faced with hard financial realities, turn to innovative methods to generate funds for the extras that enrich teaching and learning.
The Lee County Schools’ support community in 1989 started an organization called ExPECT Exceptional Progress in Education through Curriculum and Technology. ExPECT had a good start. It provided significant extra funding for many projects in the county system. Teachers and students praised what ExPECT’s funds helped them accomplish that would not have been possible with regular funding sources.
ExPECT worked, but it ran into problems in 1993, when its board became inactive. The physical distance between county schools and board members who had little interaction except involvement in ExPECT made maintaining momentum difficult. The organization almost died, but it recently has taken a deep, fresh breath. It’s ready to move.
ExPECT seeks to do what similar organizations do in and for other districts: Raise money to provide what teachers and students need that other sources can’t or won’t supply. It has the advantage of affiliation with The CREATE Foundation in Tupelo, which furnishes administrative functions at no charge. Contributions to ExPECT made through CREATE are tax deductible.
ExPECT enters its second life with a lot of energy at the top. President Bill Williams, an officer at the People’s Bank & Trust Company’s Saltillo offices, said Monday he believes 500 dues-paying members is a realistic first-year goal. He plans on getting the rejuvenated ExPECT board to meetings of county system teachers (300-plus faculty and administrators) during the summer. Williams said he wants to enlist teachers as dues-paying members to give ExPECT a presence on every campus, then reach out to every individual school community for memberships from parents and others interested in an extra push for the schools.
Williams said he plans to get the board to design a campaign fro business and corporate contributions countywide. He plans to consult with board members of the successful counterpart Tupelo organization, the Association for Excellence in Education.
ExPECT’s new strength needs to anchor its goals in workin for the whole system, not just individual campuses. The schools at Shannon, Mooreville, Saltillo, Guntown, Plantersville and Verona aren’t competitors in this venture; they are full partners.
Most of all, ExPECT needs the time, commitment and talents of many other parents like Bill Williams (one daughter is a student at Saltillo High, another graduated in 1995). Parents form the core of almost all successful ventures in support of public education. ExPECT deserves their involvement.