Private help for public schools

Public schools are asking businesses and churches for money in exchange for marketing opportunities,  reports the Wall Street Journal.  In Lakeland, Florida, Combee Elementary School saw its supplies budget cut by a third this year. Then the First Baptist Church at the Mall adopted the school, donating $5,000 of supplies. The church now “caters spaghetti dinners at evening school events, buys sneakers for poor students, and sends in math and English tutors.”

The principal is delighted. So are church pastors. “We have inroads into public schools that we had not had before,” says Pastor Dave McClamma. “By befriending the students, we have the opportunity to visit homes to talk to parents about Jesus Christ.”


Near Combee in Florida’s Polk County, “Frostproof Elementary asks local businesses to sponsor classrooms, in return for promotion on the school marquee,” reports the Journal.  Rogers & Walker Gun Shop made the marquee for donating $300 to two classes.

In the past, schools used private donations for extras. Now schools are seeking help with basic supplies.

Bake sales no longer cut it. Manatee County, Fla., just received a $20,000 check from a local cucumber grower, Falkner Farms, which wants to sponsor and name an elementary-school engineering program. District officials are reviewing the deal as they continue to solicit sponsors for other courses.

The San Diego Unified School District is seriously considering opening its middle- and high-school cafeterias and gyms to corporate advertising, a move that could bring in $30,000 to $50,000 a year per school, says Bernie Rhinerson, chief district relations officer.

North of San Diego, dentist John Coleman offers free teeth-whitening for patients who donate  $150 to a magnet school near his office. The school sends home fliers promoting the deal. “The dentist says he’s raised $5,000 for school science programs while bringing in more than enough new patients to make it worth his while.”

At Combee, the Baptists’ help “was like a prayer answered,” said Principal Steve Comparato.

While Combee gained resources, the church gained access to families. At Christmas, the school connected the church with parents who said they wouldn’t mind being visited at home by First Baptist. The church brought gifts, food and the gospel. Of about 30 families visited over two weekends in December, 13 “came to the Lord,” says Mr. McClamma, a 58-year-old motorcycle buff who drives a black sports-utility vehicle with the bumper sticker “Christ First.”

The principal says he’d take help from any denomination, but hopes on a personal level that students will “know Jesus” and be saved.  The superintendent says he can hope for whatever he wants as long as students don’t have to be Baptists to get colored pencils and paper.


About Joanne


  1. I’m not TOTALLY against this. I’ve long promoted local businesses sponsoring academic programs, like the band boosters do, simply because, as employers, they benefit from an educated populace.

    I’ve no problem with local churches getting involved – in after-school tutoring, access as a meeting place for school groups (since otherwise, the school has to foot the bill for security, utilities, and cleanup), and other appropriate activities.

    I do, however, draw the line at churches using their connection to access names and addresses to proselytize. That really exceeds acceptable boundaries.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    elementary-school engineering program

    What is an “elementary-school engineering program?”

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    Question — how many districts are virtually 100% paper? How much money could be put in the classrooms if the districts did more electronically than manually? How many positions could be eliminated and the dollars saved invested in the schools? Yes, this would mean diverting tech dollars or capital dollars for the schools to the administration but if it cut positions and saved dollars that would go into the classroom…why not?

  4. GoogleMaster says:

    Question – how much money could be saved if the districts stopped wasting it on the latest and greatest technology that the teachers don’t want and aren’t trained on, or that sits unused in the IT department until it is obsolete because of red tape, or that kids waste time on sexting and surfing inappropriate websites?

    Bring back chalkboards and pencils and paper. See how much money is saved over Smartboards and “laptop for every student”.

  5. I’m old enough to remember that this is the way in which many schools used to operate. Local schools were primarily a local function and everyone,including local businesses and churches, could be involved in some way in their operation. If I may be so bold, schools were better then.