I would like to extend my appreciation to the Ridgeview families that took the time to complete the Community Donation Survey. At the time of writing, there have been 184 responses. While Ridgeview has always sought volunteers and material contributions from its community, it has historically been reluctant to solicit monetary donations. This is very unusual for a charter school in this part of the country or any another, but in our internal discussion about this matter, there is a frank acknowledgement that there are several ways of going about this that we would all be uncomfortable with. For instance, I feel quite strongly that the students should not be used to go door to door, or write letters to their distant relatives, participate in carwashes, or sell trivial goods such as magazines or candy. I am not opposed to these methods because they are ineffectual, but because I think that they are tactless, demeaning, and distract students from their academic focus.
How precisely we will go about development at Ridgeview is a topic that I will continue to research and discuss with the board. I do know that there is interest since this survey was prompted by a number of parents writing to request more information about how they could make a donation, and only 15% of the community stated that they believed that Ridgeview should not solicit donations. Only 14% said that they did not intend to donate to Ridgeview within the next academic year. If only the individuals who said they were likely to contribute did so at a conservative estimate of the amounts they indicated, Ridgeview would raise around $28,000; if we combined the answers of those who responded with “maybe” to those who answered “yes,” Ridgeview could expect to raise around $44,000. It should be emphasized that these are only estimates, but they provide some insight into what is possible even within the first year.
One of the worries that we have had with beginning such a campaign is that we will inadvertently create a rift between those that donate and those who do not with the former group’s children receiving preferential treatment as often happens at private schools. For those who have donated fairly significant sums to date, I think it is clear that this will not happen. Nor will it be the case that those who refrain from donating will find themselves or their children the object of belittlement or diminished attention.
We will also not represent the school’s case as dire when it is not. Ridgeview is in a fairly strong financial position. If we were to receive no donations, the programs that are now offered would continue to be offered. Overall conditions, however, would not improve. The facilities would not be improved, more money would not be freed up for merit pay for faculty who take on additional duties and extracurricular activities, the lackluster technology situation would continue to hamper and frustrate the faculty, students, and parents, the grounds would be left unfinished and unimproved, and the security in the building would not be upgraded. In short, we can continue with what we have typically done, which has been quite good, or we can generate some additional revenue and focus on ways of improving the Ridgeview experience to make it great.
I would like to continue this conversation with the community, explain our financial standing in detail to those who are interested, discuss our plans for improving technology throughout our facility, and the ideas we currently have for building this development campaign in the months and years to come in a way that respects Ridgeview’s principles and parents, and most importantly, looks out for its faculty and students. There will be three of these meetings with community members. The first of these will be with the faculty on Tuesday, 16 December at 3:15 in the PAC. There will also be two Principal’s Coffees scheduled before the Christmas Break. These will occur at 7:45am on Thursday, December 18th and again at 7:00pm that evening in the PAC at Ridgeview. I look forward to seeing many of you at these meetings and continuing a conversation about how Ridgeview will go about building a development campaign that allows it to flourish without compromising its principles or dignity.