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Students, advisors want change

DUNDEE--The Dundee school board met Feb. 9 for a special forum on student fundraising for trips, events, and activities. Students, teachers, and advisors gathered to describe their experiences with a system many called "outdated."
Currently, all students are assigned one teacher who serves as the advisor to their class from seventh grade through 12th grade. The job of the advisor is to track all the accumulated volunteer fundraising "points" for each student in the group during the six-year period. One point is earned when a student participating in a fundraiser generates $20 profit for that project. Thirty-five points are required to qualify for the senior trip.
Advisors mentioned that the necessary financial record keeping is too complicated. They said tracking each student's money earned, taxes, profit and loss, and points over multiple events and multiple years for a lot of students takes too much time. They emphasized they were not trained accountants and found the process extremely burdensome and stressful. They stressed that despite the "well-meaning nature" of the process, it created competition and disunity within the student body and detracted from their ability to spend quality time with the students.
Participation in fundraising has not equated with participation in the senior trip, one advisor noted. When fewer students sign up for the trip, costs go up. Current rules of the system prevent seniors from simply "buying into" the trip with their own money. They also cannot accept donations from family and friends except within the confines of the school's specifically designated fundraising events.
Students who reach senior year without sufficient points are prevented from going on the senior trip. A number of senior students in the audience volunteered that they had done a lot of fundraising since seventh grade and wanted to go on the senior trip, but they did not have enough points to "qualify."
Teachers said the rigidly constructed top-down system demoralizes the students and creates apathy. One staff member contrasted it to fundraising projects created and maintained by the students themselves. Principal Chris Arnold noted that when students feel a sense of class unity, they don't need points to motivate them. He urged the group to explore ways to recreate that sense of class cohesion.
The board agreed to study the issue by forming a committee led by Chris Arnold and Kelly Houck. The board also approved this year's senior trip to Lake George.

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