Saturday, January 24, 2009

Doing this so I don't have to do what I should be doing

I was surfing around the internet, looking up some information for my sister-in-law on how to properly time contractions (something I haven't ever had to do, since I never went into labor without medical intervention), and I swung by Bella's school website. And there it was - the notice that I've been dreading:

"The next PTO meeting will be held on Thursday, February 5th. The
purpose is to present the new procedures for registration, including the
registration deadline for all returning families, the announcement for the fee
schedule for 2009-2010, uniform upgrades, family volunteer requirements for
2009-2010, and 2009-2010 required fundraising. This will be the only meeting
where these items will be presented. Every returning family is required to have
at least one parent present."

Well, there you go. The parking lot rumors and panicky phone calls (that I have, up to this point, tried to ignore as not being based in fact) have all had an element of truth to them - there are some new requirements for volunteering and fundraising. And of course, the annual tuition increase, that's just a given.

I want to go to this meeting, I will have to find a way to go, since it is required, but I don't know how I'm going to be able to manage to go. Brian has to work, my mother-in-law is out of town, my sister is in school, and the other people that I could possibly call on to babysit are all parents at the same school. I can bring the kids with me, but Bubba turns into a grumpy, squalling pumpkin around the same time the meeting starts (and his bedtime is a half hour after the meeting starts), and I'm not going to learn much if I'm standing outside the cafeteria trying to get him to settle down.

I'm trying not to be too pessimistic here - I don't know exactly what the new requirements are, so before I freak out about being able to afford an entire new uniform wardrobe (when one piece averages about $25 and you have to drive 45 minutes into Alabama to get the silly things) or trying to sell $250 worth of overpriced gift wrap in the middle of a recession or trying to come up with some extra time to volunteer when I have a job and another child and a husband and a house that I like to try and clean from time to time, well, I shouldn't freak out about those things before I know exactly what the school will be expecting of us. Wow, that was a heck of a run-on sentence!

It's hard, you know? It's hard when you are struggling just to meet tuition, much less factoring in whatever new requirements, fees and responsibilities they are going to add in. I wouldn't have to work nearly as many hours, if at all, if we sent her to a public school, but I believe in a good catholic education and want Bella to have one. I really like Bella's school and I think she does well there, and I don't want to have to look elsewhere.

I actually got a phone call from a middle school parent (whom I have never even met) the other day who was talking about rumored changes to school policy - there is apparently a grassroots campaign going on amongst some parents to try and spread the word. What she said was:

  • there will be a required minimum sales amount for the annual gift wrap fundraiser - the number she threw out was $250. If Bella did not sell this amount, I as her parent would be required to pay the difference out of my pocket. But, as I said earlier, there aren't a lot of people interested in paying $12 for a roll of gift wrap in August in the middle of a recession. And you can put as many festive chili peppers as you want on a set of plastic nesting measuring spoons, but that still does not make them worth $10. Not when people can't afford to buy groceries. So what happens if, despite our best efforts, we can't meet the quota and I can't afford to pay the difference? Is Bella booted out of school? I need to check my bible and see if Jesus said anything about that - "Thou shalt sell overpriced candy and gift wrap or else thou shalt take the bus to public school". Oooo-I'm bitter!
  • Required scrip card purchases, most likely also in the $250 range. I could probably live with that - they have Wal-Mart cards now, so I could do that one.
  • I'm willing to do whatever I can to help the school, so I don't really have a problem with volunteer hours, but I just hope that working parents are taken into consideration. I can't afford to take time off work regularly because I have to work so I can pay tuition. It's as simple as that. I wouldn't mind taking time off occasionally, but I work for a small business and I don't get paid time off. I will do whatever I can, however I can. But, I can't cut back too much on the time I spend with my kids, I just can't. I only get to spend about 3 hours a day with them because of work.

The woman I spoke with mentioned a couple of other things about box top requirements and some other things, but those seemed kind of small potatoes so I promptly forgot.

I'm not going to fret about it - I can't. Well, I will but I shouldn't. I'll just wait and see what happens at the meeting. And surely, if there is an issue, they would work with me. I hope so. Private school enrollment is down in our area (so much so that the local paper did a story about it recently), and I'm sure it's not just our area. Bella's school had a boost in numbers because another school in the area closed at the end of the last school year, but that has peaked.

So I'm going to put this little concern in the "don't know, can't change, no point in worrying" file, and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Ugh.


Aimee said...

The whole volunteer/findraising thing is so icky to talk about. It has to be done, but I have yet to go to a meeting where it has been presented well.

We don't have mandatory volunteering (yet), but we do have a fundraising quota for each family to meet ($500). We are lucky in the sense that the principal has lots of different fundraisers to try to help us out -- not just wrapping paper or cookies, etc. And parents are always welcome to make suggestions for fundraisers that might benefit the school.

We also have an amazingly long list of participating stores for scrip (we call them shoppers certificates) One year, I almost hit our fundraising goal on scrip alone. I used it at just about every store/restaurant we went to, and I gave it away as gifts for birthdays/Christmas.

It's still hard, though - especially for families with two parents working outside the home. I would think they'd work with you since they need to keep the enrollment (we do too - and I've got two more kids in the pipeline for them!)

Wish I lived closer - I'd watch the kids so you could go. Once upon a time I did live closer :)

Jennifer said...

Attica! Attica!

Why does a private school even HAVE fundraising activities? Brings back memories of band fundraisers where we had to sell magazine subscriptions and that horrible chocolate in the tacky tins. Ugh!

Laura said...

Val..I'm so sorry. My brothers and sisters are going through the same thing.
My brother has 4 kids in Catholic schools and so does my sister.
That's a lot of tuition.
In our area, teachers are not receieving raises next year. (That's okay because we are all just happy to have jobs.)
I hope schools can find ways to help families remain in the system.
This is crazy.