LEAD — Fundraisers done for or by entities within the Lead-Deadwood School District must follow the proper protocol. Period. So went a discussion at the Feb. 8 Board of Education meeting.
“They need to fill out a fundraising approval form before the fundraising even starts,” said Lead-Deadwood School District Business Manager Margie Rantapaa. “That’s basically in the policy and if they’re an outside organization fundraising for the school, same thing. They need to get prior approval. Let us know what’s going on.”
The process begins with a fundraising form that must be approved by administration.
“There’s the fundraising approval form that we ask that they have done prior to the fundraiser that goes on,” said Rantapaa. “That’s a policy. Basically, it says the name of organization, why are they fundraising, what are they going to use the money for? The business office perspective of this, this gets audited, as well. So we need to make sure that we know that the fundraising’s happening and then when the money comes in, we ask, if tickets were sold, how many tickets were sold, just so there’s a reconciliation path there. Then, all the funds raised, all the revenue comes in, and then all the expenditures come out. All the money comes in and then we write a check for all that comes out.”
Erik Person, superintendent of the Lead-Deadwood School District, said the reason for the conversation with the board is to serve as a reminder.
“This policy has been in place for some time. It was adopted in 1991 and it’s been revised a few times. It’s not a new policy. But I’ve been getting some feedback from the business office that the policy doesn’t always get followed,” Person said. “People don’t always fill out the paperwork and I know people don’t like that stickler for rules type of thing, but I think it’s important for us to remember that we have an oversight responsibility … honestly, this district has had a little bit of history with fraud and I don’t suspect or have a fear of anybody we currently have, but you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what the future holds, and we need to be able to demonstrate that we’re taking that oversight responsibility seriously and I think sometimes people get ahead of themselves with good intentions ‘Hey, let’s do a fundraiser for the school!’ Sometimes people come up with some crazy stuff and then you guys get questioned about it. So we’re just reminding people that, hey, we have a policy, we’re going to follow the policy, and along with that, I want the board to understand that nobody is trying to curtail fundraisers or nobody is against fundraising. But sometimes people get their feathers ruffled when they have to follow the rules and that’s where it’s coming from.”
School board member Tim Madsen asked how the information regarding fundraisers is being disseminated.
Person said administrators are having conversations with staff.
“A lot of the fundraising is through the athletic department,” Person said. “Paul (Nepodal) has been sending the word out to coaches.”
School board member Amber Vogt expressed an interest in somehow streamlining fundraising efforts between sports.
School board member Suzanne Rogers said each is raising money separately, so to have them all be the same would be a challenge.
“As long as they’re having to follow the same rules, that’s the only thing, because I don’t think that’s probably always happening, so I just want to make sure it’s consistent, whether it’s an outside or an inside organization,” Vogt said. “If it’s fundraising, it needs to be treated the same.”
Person said that having it run through the office, as it is in policy, gives the school district the ability to monitor it.
“Sometimes, when you have it a little more organized, there’s an ability to organize, or, time things a little better,” Person said. “Also, sometimes fundraising just to be fundraising isn’t the best ask for our community. Have something that you want the fundraising to go for … it reflects poorly on the school district when we are fundraising for things that we would buy if somebody would turn in a request form.”
Madsen asked where the oversight is and if it is documented in the policy.
“We’ve had conversations, too, that we have to have an approval process,” Person said. “Don’t just sign the form, but look at it. Look at what they’re doing and if it’s not clear, ask questions. Each of the principals or activities director. They’ll funnel through that before it goes to the business office.”
Rogers suggested placing the fundraising form on the website so community members can access it.
Vogt said any type of raffle fundraiser needs to come before the Lawrence County Commission for approval.
“If you are asking people for money for a raffle ticket, it also has to go through the approval process with the county commission,” she said. “Legally, if somebody would fight it, the raffle would be no good and you could lose that money. That’s a state law.”
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