Will the disparity between what rich and poor schools get in private dollars increase under the new choice-based student assignment plan being developed for Wake County?
As noted in Sunday's article by Thomas Goldsmith and David Raynor, Wake County schools receive more than $21 million each year in private revenue. Schools like Lacy Elementary raise around $100,000 a year from a non-profit foundation while Creech Road Elementary got $12,738 last year in various private donations.
"It is an equity issue that is hard to address because it's private money," said school board member Keith Sutton.
The difference in money means students at some schools can go on long-distance trips, receive more high-tech equipment and be taught by teachers paid with private dollars.
Wake supplements higher poverty schools with additional money such as Title I funding and Renaissance School support.
Click here for a spreadsheet from the school system listing individual donations to schools.
If the new assignment plan results in more students going to schools closer to where they live, the disparity in private dollars could increase.
School board Vice Chairman John Tedesco has repeatedly raised the alarm about some schools getting more benefit from donated funds than others.
"As a district, we should be beginning to explore how to empower all of our schools," Tedesco said. "We want to make all schools high-demand schools."
But school board member Kevin Hill thinks differences in contributions and resources will likely continue.
"Parents will by and large support the schools that their children go to, as they are able to do so," Hill said. "If someone tried to put all the money in a big pot, they would quit giving."
Wake Superintendent Tony Tata hopes to address inequities in part by creating an Office of Family and Public Engagement to handle requests made to the school system on how to donate time, equipment and services.
Also, as part of his reorganization of the central office, Tata moved the grants office under the new position of chief transformation officer to help recruit large donations.
"You've got to have a plan to reach out to the big financial donors in the world," Tata said.